The return of the CFL brought a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup, which featured the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Blue Bombers were crowned champions of that game, and Hamilton hoped to get long-awaited revenge on Thursday night. However, they were unable to pull off a win, and lost to Winnipeg 19-6.
This was an away game for the Tiger-Cats, and considering it was the first CFL game in almost two years, it was understandable that the players had a little rust. This game also marked the return of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, whose 2019 season was cut short due to an ACL tear. Masoli completed 24 of 41 passes for 242 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.
The highlight of the game for the Tiger-Cats was a 37-yard touchdown pass from Masoli to wide receiver Jaelon Acklin early in the first quarter. The touchdown gave the team a 6-0 lead, but a two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Acklin finished the contest with 7 catches for 98 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Brandon Banks, regarded as one of the best receivers in the CFL, caught an additional 8 passes for 77 yards. Banks finished first in all major statistical categories for CFL receivers in 2019 (112 receptions, 1,550 yards, 13 touchdowns). The Tiger-Cats hope he will replicate that production in 2021.
While the offensive side of the ball had some flaws, the defense needed some help in every category. Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira, who happens to be a Winnipeg native, ran for 126 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Oliveira was filling in for the injured Andrew Harris, and it was a real challenge for the Tiger-Cats to slow him down. The defense also gave up two touchdowns to wide receiver Kenny Lawler, and failed to intercept any passes from quarterback Zach Collaros.
Despite the Tiger-Cats loss, it was still a great sight to see the CFL back in action. Almost 30,000 fans were in attendance at IG Field in Winnipeg, which was the largest number of attendance at a Canadian sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic started in early 2020.
The Tiger-Cats will look to get their first win in week 2, where they will face the Saskatchewan Roughriders in another away game. As the 2021 CFL season has been shortened from 18 games to 14, this team has less time to prove they can make another Grey Cup appearance. A loss in the season opener is never ideal, but the Tiger-Cats have enough talent to overcome this shaky start.
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