If someone told you the Lions would go two games without allowing a defensive touchdown and would lose both games, you would have thought they were crazy. But that’s the reality facing a team that has lost any reasonable facsimile of an offence. It was the third straight loss for the Lions who have been unable to take advantage of the recent losses of foes in the West. Here’s how I saw the game, From the Couch.
Plenty of Blame to Go Around
With all the problems the Lions have encountered with their offence this season, expecting them all to be fixed overnight is somewhat unrealistic. That said, as a fan you at least hope for some signs of progress, yet sadly there were none to take solace in Saturday.
The offensive line has been the focal point for much of the season but perhaps that has been a little unfair, because this team is finding all sorts of ways to stall drives and stay out of the end zone. Whether it’s missed blocks, protection breakdowns, penalties, dropped passes, or the inability to get open and execute the proper routes, you name it the Lions are finding ways to make things downright frustrating offensively.
Keola Antolin was unable to generate anything out of the backfield, but it’s unfair to pin the Lions woes on a player playing his first CFL game. He received little help from those in front of him, often being smothered immediately in the backfield by the league’s best run defence.
With Antolin and the running game struggling the Lions needed their passing game to rise to the occasion but they couldn’t. In the third quarter, after a 42 yard Kevin Glenn strike to Ernest Jackson the Lions only offensive touchdown came on a pitch to Emmanuel Arceneaux who found Shawn Gore alone in the end zone. It was the Lions most creative play in some time, but it would be the last points they scored.
In the fourth quarter, going against the wind and hemmed deep in their own end, the Lions couldn’t manage a drive to tilt the field in the other direction. When they needed a field goal in the final minutes, SJ Haidara dropped two passes the Lions desperately needed to complete to give them a chance. It was the story of the night, and their season to date.
Once again the defence did their best to hold the fort, but keeping the Ticats out of the end zone wasn’t enough. Unlike the Lions offence, Hamilton were able to extend drives and keep the Lions defence on the field and were able to move the ball into Lions territory consistently enough to chip away at the lead.
It wasn’t just the Lions offence that struggled; special teams and coaching chipped in too. The Lions had problems dealing with Terrell Sinkfield and Brandon Banks who racked up 199 return yards. After conceding one safety, the Lions conceded a second, and Mike Benevides indicated on the post-game show the second was supposed to be a punt, but miscommunication at a crucial time saw Ricky Schmitt take a knee.
There is plenty of blame to go around, and with the injuries the Lions have incurred there is little help coming to resolve the issues they are having. They are running out of chances in to make up ground in the West and have blown two chances to do so. Solutions must come from within, and they must come quickly.
Let’s Pass On Interference Reviews
I’ve had it with the review of pass interference. It was an intriguing addition to the rules this off-season and I was willing to give it a chance but it’s not working. Teams are using it as a tool in their offence now, and why not? Even when calls go to the command centre it’s a crapshoot as to what they deem pass interference and what isn’t. Andrew Harris voiced his displeasure on Twitter, Jovon Johnson of the Redblacks retweeted yours truly when I voiced my frustration, so the players thinks it’s a joke too. It’s an experiment that has failed badly, and it needs to be turfed.
Home Sweet Home
Anyone else happy for the fans in Hamilton, who are undefeated in their new home? Ticats fans are some of the most long suffering yet loyal fans in the country. After being the equivalent of the CFL homeless for what seemed like an eternity, they finally have a place to call home. Tim Horton’s field sounded very loud on Saturday, and it’s likely to play host to a playoff game. A reward that fans in Hamilton are very deserving of.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your comments, and of course we’ll have plenty more to say on this week’s BCLionsDen.ca Pawdcast.