It’s not quite the same as a walk-off home run in baseball.
But for a defensive back, it’s about as close as you get.
Intercepting the final pass of a game with the result on the line … that’s what DBs live for.
Calgary Stampeders defensive back DaShaun Amos just smiled when he was asked about the final play of last Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. With the Stamps up by four points, Bombers QB Chris Streveler took one last shot at the endzone when he desperately hucked the ball downfield in a last-ditch attempt to save the Canadian Football League game.
But when the ball came down, it was Amos who had it and the Stampeders who were storming the field in celebration.
“Yeah, all year we’ve been talking with (defensive backs coach Josh Bell) and in the room about closing out games,” Amos said. “When we’re out there on the field and have an opportunity to close out a game, we want to do what we have to do: Buckle up and take care of it.”
The walk-off interception was the latest highlight in a big year for Amos, who has emerged as a critical component of the Stampeders’ defensive backfield.
He’s got 36 defensive tackles and five interceptions so far in 2019. Those five picks have him tied for the most in the entire CFL, and the guys he’s competing with – league-leader Winston Rose, of the Bombers, teammate Tre Roberson and the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ Jumal Rolle – are all corners.
In terms of halfbacks, Amos is leading the league.
Unfortunately, though, he’s not eligible for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award because he played two games last season.
Amos only joined last year’s eventual Grey Cup champions on Oct. 3 of last year but found himself starting at halfback 10 days later against the BC Lions and then starting again two weeks later at corner against the Bombers.
Remember, last year’s Stampeders were a championship team. For a first-year rookie to join the practice roster in the final month of the regular season and then start at two different positions before the year was through was crazy.
The Stampeders, though, knew they had something special in Amos.
“He was in the IMG mini-camp (in the spring) with us, and he was the best DB we had, but he got blessed with (an NFL opportunity last summer),” Bell said. “Tre Roberson was a starter for us (last season) , and Amos was way better than Tre Roberson when we did the evaluation at IMG.”
Amos came into the 2019 season knowing that the field halfback position was likely his to lose after the Stampeders chose not to re-sign Emanuel Davis, last year’s starter at the position.
The two games he had under his belt last year might have made him ineligible for the Most Outstanding Rookie award, but they gave Amos a better understanding of what he needed to do in the off-season to prepare for life playing pro football in Calgary.
“It just gave me a feel for the game, really,” Amos said. “Being thrown into the fire like that and having to learn everything so fast, it helped me this year because I don’t want to say that I had time, but I had more time.
“I was just more comfortable coming into the year and a little more confident. It showed me that I could play in this league. It just gave me a little bit more of a head-start.”
From the Stampeders’ perspective, it sounds like getting Amos a chance to get a little ahead of the game was all part of the plan.
“We do try to play young guys if they come up,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “Give them a look if we can, and also that seems to give them that little bit of an advantage for next year.
“The field-half, for us, is a lot about communication and reading and have faith in the guys around him. So he grew into it. Ultimately, he’s taken advantage of his opportunities, as well, and we need those. We need those interceptions.”
ROBERSON TO ROOKIE WILSON: GET LOUD
Tre Roberson has offered Raheem Wilson his advice.
The Calgary Stampeders defensive backs have talked, and Roberson made it very clear to Wilson that if he wants to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award, he needs to get loud.
Last year, Roberson was inexplicably passed up by voters for the West Division’s nomination for the end-of-season award in favour of Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert, and he doesn’t want it to happen again to his teammate in the Stamps’ defensive backfield.
“I told him he needs to talk a little more. He needs to start making some noise in the media and put his name out there,” Roberson said. “He’s a DB, so it’s hard for that type of stuff to happen for him. He has to have 20 picks and four touchdowns for it to happen.”
It might also help if the media’s votes for the award were automatically made public, so that “reporters” in certain cities couldn’t leave players entirely off their ballots to sabotage their chances.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019