I’ve never felt gutted after a win before, but Friday night’s Lions’ 7-5 win over Ottawa sure felt like a loss. The BC Lions only manufactured two field goals and a single, but the bigger story was the loss of Travis Lulay. Here are my thoughts from the couch.
Lulay showed the predictable rust that one would expect in his first start since last season and a long recovery from off-season shoulder surgery. With two new faces on the offensive line and a running game that was shut down by the Redblacks, the offence struggled all game. The only weapon they had at their disposal was the feet of Lulay, who outrushed the rest of the offence…combined.
Andrew Harris and Stefan Logan each had six carries and produced just 14 yards between them. Poor first down production and untimely penalties resulted with the Lions facing too many second and long situations against a Redblacks defence that turned in a solid performance.
Lulay was 10-15 in the first half where the Lions were outplayed but still took a 6-5 lead to the dressing room, thanks to solid play from the defence and Solomon Elimimian. The linebacker combined with Dante Marsh to make a touchdown saving hit at the goal line to jar the ball loose from Chevon Walker who was also knocked out of the game on the play. The only scoring from either team in the second half was a punt single by Ricky Schmitt. Yes folks, it was hardly a classic.
The Lions caught a break in the fourth quarter when torrential rain came into a play. With the Redblacks moving the ball, they prepared to kick a field goal to take the lead with just over 4:00 to play. A botched hold on the attempt resulted in the Lions taking over on downs, just before the players were sent to the dressing room because of lightning in the area. The Lions had dodged a bullet, but that storm also proved to be an ominous sign of what was to come.
When the game resumed Lulay had the Lions moving downfield. After talking his coach into going for it on third and short, he completed a huge pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux to set the Lions up near field goal range, but there would be no field goal. As Lulay dropped back to pass, the ball slipped from his hands and in the ensuing scramble 6’7”, 324 pound left tackle Cory Brandon, playing in his first game as a Lion, came crashing down on topping of him, injuring the same shoulder that Lulay had worked so hard to recover.
Suddenly, the quality of the game really didn’t matter. Lulay is one of the most genuine and kind players a fan could meet and is extremely popular in the dressing room and around the league. He’s given the Lions everything he could, on and off the field.
All the excitement of Lulay returning healthy and helping the Lions get their offence on track vanished as Lulay walked directly to the Lions dressing room, his night done. The Lions hung on to win the game, but with the frustration of the game and the loss of Lulay, it sure felt like a loss.
Without knowing the exact diagnosis, its possible Lulay’s career may be in jeopardy and regardless how bad watching that game made you feel, that’s the worst part of all. It’s not a great feeling when bad things happen to good people.
Where do you start with the offence, who hasn’t produced a touchdown in the last two games? Clearly the revolving door on the offensive line isn’t helping, but that isn’t the only problem. Where are Harris and Logan in the attack? Why can’t Khari Jones find ways to get his star players more consistently involved? There are simply too many mistakes happening, whether it be missed assignments, dumb penalties or a lack of focus.
Is the team prepared to play? They had a week to prepare for a 1-8 football team and they escaped by the skin of their teeth. But this game just magnified what has been happening most of the year. There is talent on this team, and for whatever reason it is not producing on a consistent enough basis.
The offence under Mike Benevides and Jones simply isn’t good enough and that has to be questioned. Benevides has always been known as a coach that likes to play aggressively. Even though he’s a defensive guy, you would think he would want his offence to play the same way. Not only is Jones new, he’s been using a pocket passing QB who was thrust into a new offence and doesn’t have the luxury of the offensive line he enjoyed while playing in Calgary.
Regardless, it looks like this is Kevin Glenn’s team the rest of the way. The Lions should get some offensive lineman back from injury in the next couple weeks, when Jermarcus Hardrick and Andre Ramsey could return. But unless the Lions can figure out how to get their offence going, the playoffs won’t matter, even if they find a way to get into them.
What are your thoughts? Are you mad or frustrated? Can you see this team turning things around? I’d love to hear your comments, and I’ll have plenty more on this week’s BCLionsDen.ca Pawdcast.