Wednesday 3 March 2010

What Could Have Been, Pt. 1

2009 was a season of renewal for fans of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. For the first time since 2004, the Tabbies made the CFL Playoffs, and for the first time since 2001, the Cats hosted a home playoff game. Looking back on the season shows that 2009 was a roaring success. But when dissecting what went down in 2009, could it be that 9-9 was actually a disappointment? What I mean by that is if you were to break down the opponents that the Cats faced in 2009 could they have had an even better record? I will now attempt to answer that question with a look at the first 9 games of the Tiger-Cats' 2009 season, with the final 9 games (and the playoffs) coming soon.

Week 1 vs. Toronto
Original Outcome: LOST 30-17
Original Team Record: 0-1

This was déjà vu all over again. The Cats looked absolutely horrendous in this one, making it never really feel like a game and giving this fan the sneaking suspicion that 2009 was going to be the same as 2008... and 2007... and 2006... and... you get the picture. The fact that the Ti-Cats only lost by a score of 30-17 was in itself a minor miracle.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 30-7
Revised Team Record: 0-1

Week 2 @ BC
Original Outcome: WON 31-28
Original Team Record: 1-1

HUGE UPSET! Did not expect this to happen in the least. The Cats won in BC for the first time since 2004 and surprised a hell of a lot of people, myself included. Former Lions castoffs played great (Otis Floyd had the INT that sealed the win, Jamall Johnson had double digit tackles) but the game will be remembered as DeAndra' Cobb's coming-out party putting up 175 total yards and a TD. This game played out exactly how it should have.

Revised Outcome: WIN 31-28
Revised Team Record: 1-1

Week 3 vs. Winnipeg
Original Outcome: WON 25-13
Original Team Record: 2-1

One week after winning in BC for the first time in 5 years, the Cats came home to face the Bombers. From start to finish the Tabbies owned this game. Stefan LeFors was still the starting QB for the Bombers, and he looked horrible. This game played out the way I hoped and the way it would if replayed today.

Revised Outcome: WIN 28-14
Revised Team Record: 2-1

Week 4 @Montreal
Original Outcome: LOST 21-8
Original Team Record: 2-2

This was a litmus-test game for the Cats. Going in they had a 2-1 record and were coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since 2006, when the team swept back-to-back games against the Edmonton Eskimos, and were a confident bunch going into Montreal. The Als had come off three straight dominating performances and had commentators like TSN's Chris Cuthbert already using the dreaded 'U' word. After this game the "undefeated" designation seemed a little premature. The game was a lot closer than the final score indicated, as the Cats had two opportunities to score TDs in the 4th quarter, but didn't. Tough game to lose, but important going forward.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 21-16
Revised Team Record: 2-2

Week 5 vs. BC
Original Outcome: WON 30-18
Original Team Record: 3-2

The Cats dominated the Lions in every aspect of the game. The most notable thing about this Week 5 matchup was that it was Arland Bruce's first game in the Black & Gold since his trade earlier that week from Toronto.

Revised Outcome: WIN 30-18
Revised Team Record: 3-2

Week 6 vs. Edmonton
Original Outcome: WON 28-21
Original Team Record: 4-2

This was a great game that took place in a torrential downpour at Ivor Wynne Stadium. It was basically the last team to touch the ball wins. Great play by both teams and a hard-fought win for the Tabbies. This game is what football is all about.

Revised Outcome: WIN 28-21
Revised Team Record: 4-2

Week 7 @ Saskatchewan
Original Outcome: LOST 33-23
Original Team Record: 4-3

The Cats were coming off back-to-back wins for the second time this season and were looking to finally put together a three-game winning streak. However, that was not to be. The Riders stormed out to a quick 23-0 lead by halftime, and all looked done for the Tabbies. The Cats clawed back to tie it at 23-23 in the third quarter but lost all their mojo, allowing the Riders to score 10 unanswered points to win in the end. While I'd love to change this outcome, when a team trails 23-0 they don't deserve to win, but give credit to them for not giving up.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 33-23
Revised Team Record: 4-3

Week 9 @ Edmonton
Original Outcome: LOST 31-30
Original Team Record: 4-4

Much like the previous game, this one was also a back-and-forth affair. Once again the last team to touch the ball won. However, mistakes cost the Cats in this game. If replayed the game would still be a tight contest; however, I believe that the outcome would differ slightly.

Revised Outcome: WIN 30-28
Revised Team Record: 5-3

Week 10 vs. Toronto
Original Outcome: WON 34-15
Original Team Record: 5-4

The Labour Day Classic. Every year this is the most important game of the year. Win and the season is a success. Lose and the entire city shuts down to mourn. The Cats were the superior team from whistle to whistle. I had the opportunity to sit behind four Argo fans, and they did not enjoy my group (mostly me and my cousin). When the classic chant of "ARGOS SUCK!" broke out after a fight, the fans that were sitting in front began to roll their eyes. Life is tough at Ivor Wynne. Can't take the heat? Go back to the Rogers Centre SkyDome. This one stays the exact same.

Revised Outcome: WIN 34-15
Revised Team Record: 6-3

At the midway point of the revised 2009 CFL Regular Season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats stand at a very good 6-3, with the only change coming in a sweep of the Esks with the Cats winning in Edmonton. Where will the Cats sit after 18 games? Will they still be a playoff team? Find out when I complete the second half of the 2009 season later in the week.

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