B.C. Lions Defense Setting the Tone in CFL
The B.C. Lions are looking like Grey Cup champions again.
After seven games, the defending champions are the only team in the CFL with a 5–2 record. They take on the last place Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2–5) on Friday.
The rest of the league should start to take notice, if they haven’t already, for the Lions started last season 0–5 before going on to win it all.
Statistically, you’d think the Lions are better than a 5–2 team. The Lions are a good example of how many a pro football team tries to model itself—have a strong defense and running game.
On offense, it’s all about running the ball for the B.C. Lions. In the pass-happy CFL, the league-leading Lions have racked up 200 net rushing yards more than the second best running game. That’s nearly 30 percent more yards than the second best running game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions have allowed the fewest first downs, least net yards on offense, and fewest points per game. They also lead the league in quarterback sacks. After seven games, their most talked-about defensive statistic is that they have not allowed a touchdown in over 180 minutes of play.
“Those guys have been fantastic. When you take a look at three CFL games without allowing a touchdown, that’s remarkable,” said Lions head coach Mike Benevides after last Sunday’s win over Saskatchewan, according to www.bclions.com.
The Lions passing game hasn’t set the league on fire, but it hasn’t had to. The league’s most outstanding player, quarterback Travis Lulay, is getting the job done. He’s second in the league in completion percentage at 68 percent and has thrown the third most touchdown passes so far.
Taking care of the football is something at which the Lions excel. They’ve only turned the ball over six times, whereas the other seven CFL teams have turned it over on average 12 times.
Their 24–5 whipping of Saskatchewan last Sunday showed how they can step it up a gear. The Rough Riders are one of the two teams that have beaten the Lions this year and they nearly shut down B.C. for the entire first half.
But good teams make plays that turn games around and when Tim Brown returned a missed field goal 63 yards, the Lions had that boost they needed. Lulay, at his best when the pressure’s on, ran for a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the half to give B.C. a lead they would not relinquish.
“They have a veteran group and as the game wore along, they got stronger,” Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin was reported as saying on www.bclions.com.
The B.C. Lions are now on a three-game winning streak in which their opponent has not managed to reach double figures in points. They look like a juggernaut gathering steam.
Their match with the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 31 could be a Grey Cup rematch.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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