LULAY’S BACK IN THE GAME
Lion QB in fine form after surgery
Travis Lulay was 10 weeks into his rehab from knee surgery when playing again felt about as close as colonizing Mars.
“I was limping and I’m thinking: Playing professional football again? Running away from guys? How?” Lulay said. “But any time those thoughts crept in, I washed them away. I kept saying, ‘I don’t have to play right now. I just have to take one baby step at a time and get to that point.’ ”
Those baby steps turned into a giant leap Saturday with a 348-yard passing performance that won the game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was enough for the CFL to name the B.C. Lions’ quarterback its player of the week.
Not bad for a player who as recently as the spring wasn’t sure if he was even going to play this season.
“It really wasn’t until I sat down with (Lions general manager) Ed Hervey before free agency that I really believed I was going to give it a go,” Lulay said. “Even at that point in time, there was no guarantee. Sometimes the surgery takes a full year and that wouldn’t put me back until the end of the season.”
Lulay’s career was thrown into question last September when he suffered ACL, MCL and cartilage damage in a game against Montreal. It set him on a rocky,
nine-month course that has landed him here, back in control of the Lions’ destiny in what is being billed as Wally Buono’s last season as head coach.
“I had to have tunnel vision. On one hand, it goes really fast, but on the other, it was a long road,” Lulay admitted.
People can pick apart Saturday’s game if they want to, a 20-17 Lions win. Lulay’s offence was held without a point in the first half. But, by the end, he was 28-for-41 with those 348 yards. For comparison, Jonathon Jennings quarterbacked the same team for three games and threw for 487 yards total.
“I threw 41 balls in the game, I’m going to miss some,” Lulay said. “I knew I was going to make a mistake or two, and as long I stayed confident it wasn’t going to be fatal. Fortunately, I was barely right.”
Lulay said he didn’t know what to expect in his return after missing more than 300 days, but leaned on his experience to overcome the rust. He lost the grip on a ball early, which turned a sure touchdown into an interception. And his offence bungled its play-calling late in the first half, a series in which the Lions should have scored points but didn’t.
But the defence bought just enough time, setting up the lategame heroics. The win was an important one for a Lions team that is middling and searching for an identity. But far more important is that B.C. has its pivot back again. At least, that’s how it looked for most of the second half.
“At the end of the game, it all happened so fast, I felt like I had just blinked my eyes and here we are. We won,” Lulay said. “The first week I was ready to go and play again was the week I ended up getting called on by the team to play. I never had a vision that by Week 4 I’d play.”
Did we see a glimpse of what the Lions can do after that 20-point second half ?
“Yes,” Lulay said. “We ran 60-something plays and we had a chance to get into rhythm. We gave ourselves a chance to make more plays. When Shaq Johnson scored his touchdown, that was essentially my third read. If you have that kind of confidence, if we’re scoring touchdowns on check downs, that’s a really good sign.”