Baltimore formally welcomed pro football back to Memorial Stadium last night with the Canadian Football League's biggest crowd of the year and a deafening barrage of fireworks.
But the last word went to Doug Flutie, the Calgary Stampeders' 5-foot-10 quarterback who has reinvented himself in the CFL.
Flutie threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Stampeders dumped the Baltimore CFLs, 42-16, before a crowd of 39,247.
"The people were enthusiastic," he said after comleting 25 of 39 passes for 284 yards. "They know how to express themselves better down here.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a classy audience. They get on you a little bit, trying to get their team going."
The loss was Baltimore's first after two preseason wins and a regular-season opening victory in Toronto.
It was a potentially disastrous loss in the fourth period, when quarterback Tracy Ham limped off the field after a sack by Calgary's middle linebacker Marvin Pope.
Ham injured his right leg above the ankle, but X-rays were negative.
"I'll be fine," Ham said. "I'll play against Shreveport [next Saturday]."
Ham completed 23 of 33 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown. When he left the game early in the fourth quarter, Baltimore trailed by nine at 25-16.
Calgary (1-1) added two more touchdowns after he left, one following an intercepted pass by John Congemi, to put the game away.
The Stampeders scored the game's last 20 points to break open their 22-16 lead after three quarters.
Flutie threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Dave Sapunjis and 5 yards to Allen Pitts, and went 15 yards on a naked bootleg in the second quarter for another touchdown. He rushed six times for 82 yards.
"Those are the things he does," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said. "He does it to a lot of people. That's why he's the most valuable player [the last three years]. It certainly was typical of Doug Flutie."
Matthews said the defensive strategy was to keep Flutie in the middle of the field, but "we weren't very successful doing that."
Baltimore produced 398 yards in offense, but reached the end zone only once. That was on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ham to Chris Armstrong in the second quarter. It was Armstrong's third TD catch of the season.
Donald Igwebuike accounted for the rest of the offense with three field goals, covering distances of 13, 16 and 21 yards.
Those three field goal drives stalled at the 6, 9 and 14 yard lines.
"I thought we were our own worst enemy early in the game," Matthews said, referring to an offsides penalty with Baltimore on the Calgary 1 on the game's first series.
Pushed back to the 6 with thepenatly, Ham had a pass batted away by Pope on second down, and Igwebuike came on for his first field goal.
Baltimore did find a running game early, though, when it resorted its "scatter" formation. In that offensive set, four players -- Shawn Beals, Mike Pringle, Walter Wilson and Eddie Britton -- line up in an I behind Ham. Before the snap of the ball, they break in different directions.
It is a good run formation, Matthews said. And Pringle, getting his first start, rushed for 79 yards on 15 carries.
In the end, Baltimore was hurt by three turnovers and a big runback by Calgary's Pee Wee Smith.
With Calgary leading 8-6, Smith caught a 28-yard punt from Josh Miller on the dead run and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown in the second period. Baltimore did not get a clean shot at Smith on the return. That made it 15-6.
"That's not the kicker's fault," Matthews said. "Our coverage went right by him. That's just part of football.'
Calgary's fourth quarter rally started with a 25-yard field goal by Mark McLoughlin, opening a 25-16 lead.
Ham went out on the next series, and Flutie took the Stampeders 55 yards in seven plays to another touchdown. He finished the drive with a 5-yard pass to Allen Pitts.
McLouglin hit a 22-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the game. And after Congemi was intercepted by Doug Crat. The Stampeders pushed across their final touchdown when Tony Stewart took a pitchout 5 yards into the end zone.