I do enjoy the Labour Day Weekend games in the Canadian Football League, but this one was extra special, because both Labour Day Monday games actually aired on American television, on the CBS Sports Network. Before Week 13 kicked off on Saturday, the CFL announced its first clinching scenario: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers could get in with a win. Simple as that. Of course, this was the weekend of the rivalry matchups, and in the case of the Blue Bombers, they faced off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday.
There was trouble for the Bombers, though, as they were behind for the most part throughout regulation. It's not surprising; the Riders and Bombers play each other very tough, but the latter found themselves ahead late, until a late Riders FG led to overtime. Always love overtime in the CFL; up to two minigames played, and Saskatchewan won the toss, and after a few plays, they got in the end zone. Of course, no extra points in OT, have to go for two, and the Riders got it. So Winnipeg had to get the maximum eight points to stay alive, and all it took was one Zach Collaros pass to get the first six points. Unfortunately, the two-point attempt fell short. Riders won, 32-30, in overtime, and Winnipeg has to wait another week to clinch.
Again, the week began with the Montréal Alouettes hosting the BC Lions--West Coast vs East Coast, and this was an important game for both teams, as they were both coming off losses. In addition, each team needed to keep pace in their respective divisions, and while the game was close all the way through, it was all BC, who went on to win 34-25, and would thank the Roughriders a day later.
Labour Day Monday featured the two usual matchups, with the first one being the Battle of Ontario. The Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats faced off on the holiday, and this was a cake walk for the defending champs. The Boatmen started off with a 17-0 lead, though the TiCats attempted to chip away at that difference, but only brought it down to seven points. A rouge in the 3rd quarter marked Toronto's first points since building that lead, but the Argos would find the end zone just a few more times, leading to a 41-28 win that definitely dismayed those a little further East in Quebec. The Battle of Alberta followed, and it looked like the Edmonton Elks would actually pull off their third straight win, which definitely would have been a huge detriment to the Calgary Stampeders. The Elks had a 31-28 lead with under a minute left, but Calgary's last drive ended up being a scoring one, a late touchdown to put them ahead for good, resulting in a 35-31 win for the Stamps.
So a thrilling Labour Day Weekend is in the books, and here's how things stand:
In the West Division, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are now 9-3 with their overtime defeat, while the BC Lions improved to 8-4. The victorious Saskatchewan Roughriders are 6-5, the Calgary Stampeders improved to 4-8, and the Edmonton Elks dropped to 2-10. It's getting interesting now. The Bombers and Lions won't face each other again until Week 18, which is the CFL's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and that matchup could determine who takes first place in the West.
In the East Division, the Toronto Argonauts improved to 9-1 with their Labour Day win, while the Montréal Alouettes fell to 6-5 with their loss. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are now 4-7, while the idle Ottawa Redblacks are still 3-8. It's official: the East is Toronto's to lose. With the season entering the two-thirds mark, the Boatmen's stranglehold over the East is getting stronger and stronger, with no chance for the other three teams.
Week 14 will kick off on Friday, September 8 (one day after the 2023 NFL season starts) with an Eastern battle between the Ottawa Redblacks and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The rest of the action will take place on Saturday, September 9, beginning with the Toronto Argonauts hosting the Montréal Alouettes, and followed by the same two Western matches taking place--this time in Winnipeg and Edmonton.
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