Flutie puts on show worthy of top billing


If Baltimore is the CFL team with no name, then Calgary is the one with the longest.

That's the way it is when your quarterback is so good, he gets top billing.

In last night's home opener at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore fans were treated to "Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders," as the team is often referred to in stories and advertisements

hyping an upcoming game.

And for the most part, Flutie showed why he is worthy of such an introduction.

He completed 25 of 39 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another 82 yards and a score. And Calgary handed Baltimore its first loss, 42-16.

With the exception of a few rough moments, it was pretty much what you would expect from someone who has been named his league's Most Outstanding Player the past three seasons. Someone who has thrown for more than 22,000 yards in 72 career games. Someone whose mere presence has made Calgary the favorite to win the Grey Cup championship, which it did in 1992 after Flutie was signed as a free agent and went on to set 11 club records.

"Offensively, we did a lot of great things," he said. "There were just a couple series there where the ball gets tipped, or we don't pick up a first down because we're a yard or two short and end up having to punt, and that gets really frustrating. But I thought we were very efficient in what we did."

Flutie drove Calgary 84 yards for a touchdown on its second possession. He ran the ball once. He completed three passes over the middle. He took a couple of hits and bounced back up.

In short, he frustrated Baltimore's defense, just as he has done to so many others.

"That's typical Doug Flutie," said Baltimore defense end O. J. Brigance. "Our plan was to keep him in the pocket."

The run was vintage Flutie. He rolled to his left, eluded the grasp of Baltimore nose tackle Jearld Baylis, reversed to the right and scampered 18 yards.

Having shown why he is one of the CFL's most explosive players, Flutie then demonstrated why he also is one of its gutsiest, completing a 19-yard scoring pass to Dave Sapunjis as he was being leveled by Robert Presbury.

That was the only touchdown generated by Flutie in the first half until 22 seconds remained. Capitalizing on a fumble by Baltimore's Peter Tuipulotu, he took the Stampeders 80 yards in seven plays. He ran for 41 yards, including the last 15 around left end, and completed three passes.

"That was nice. We put it together there," he said. "I had two long runs and that kind of breaks a defense's back."

Until then, the half had been more frustrating for the former Heisman Trophy winner than it was productive.

Working out of the shotgun formation, he completed passes on the first two plays of Calgary's opening possession, but both were nullified by penalties. The Stampeders collected 13 first downs, but they needed a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown by Pee-Wee Smith and the late drive to lead, 22-13 at halftime.

For the half, Flutie was 11 of 18 for 142 yards. He also gained 59 on the ground. But Baltimore had succeeded in keeping the ball out of his hands, leading in time of possession, 20:05 to 9:55.

"Time of possession was driving me crazy," said Flutie, who last year established a CFL record for touchdown passes in a season with 44. "They were moving the ball against our defense and I was thinking this was going to be a shootout."

He was nearly perfect in the fourth quarter, when Calgary put the game out of reach. Eleven of his 13 passes went for completions. He rolled out, he stood in the pocket, and he picked apart the Baltimore defense.

And by the end, Flutie had picked up some more admirers.

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