Milton: Ticats won by not beating themselves

In the aftermath, which is always warm and buttery when Labour Day has gone Hamilton’s way, it’s probably good for your long-term emotional stability to remember that the Tiger-Cats scored only 17 points on offence and the Toronto Argonauts had lost three of their last four.
But, as new head coach June Jones said even before being asked, “a win is a win.” Emphasis on the ‘a’, as in one. But you can’t get two until you get one. And you can’t get three until you get two etc. etc.

That, of course, is getting a way ahead of themselves. But maybe that’s excusable because the Ticats aren’t ahead of anybody else. Even with the 24-22 win over the Double Blue, Hamilton is still four points behind the second-worst team in the CFL, the Montreal Alouettes, and six points back of what is surely the last playoff spot available; second place in the east, currently held by those same Argos.

But it’s also important to remember that Monday’s was the kind of game the Ticats have been losing all summer: Periodic confusion in time and game management; enough time left for the other team to march down the field and tie or win the game; no points in the first quarter; an interception thrown on the third play from scrimmage; the opposing offence seeming to take over in the third and early fourth quarters; and the visiting team possessing the ball for 10 minutes longer than the home team.

But the difference between eight losses and this one win, was that the Ticats made some, as in enough, big plays.

Sergio Castillo hit the second longest field goal in team history – the margin of victory – and launched a 57-yard punt that gave Toronto no chance for a weird one-play comeback at the end; Jeremiah Masoli wasn’t brilliant, but the offensive line kept him clean, and he dropped one right into Speedy Banks’ hands at full gallop.

Banks, unlike a similar pass from Masoli in the previous game, held on for an electrifying touchdown.

All game Banks got really open, and was targeted a whopping 13 times, twice as many as in any other game in the past two years, and four more than his career high here.

And Luke Tasker plucked a pass out of his eyebrows to keep a touchdown drive going. He also drew another critical pass interference call as Hamilton scored an uncharacteristic 21 points in the second half.

On the other side of the ball, cornerback Richard Leonard made an important interception when Toronto was about to assume early control; defensive back Osagie Odiase stripped a ball that created Felix Faubert-Lussier’s special teams touchdown; and corner Cariel Brooks knocked down Ricky Ray’s second-down pass in the end zone to force the third down that became Lirim Hajrullahu’s game-losing missed field goal.

The Ticats have said all year that their losses have come down to seven or eight plays made or not made; but, for the most part, they were flattering themselves.

This time, they made a greater number of those plays, and probably made more in the secondary than they have all season. There, the increased aggressiveness was noticeable, before and after the two-hour lightning delay. They knocked balls down, forced Ray into mistakes, and closed quickly for the tackle when a pass was completed.

“I felt like we were playing real confident in the back end, ” said defensive halfback Emanuel Davis. “We’re just trying to dictate where the ball goes a little more, get in the receivers’ faces.”

That aggressiveness likely stemmed from a new coach, frustration with serial losing and pent-up antagonism after a bye week. And, you have to think, a sense of having nothing more to lose.

Now they’ve got to repeat it and more: nine times.

With the CFL’s porous East that’s possible, Jones suggested, if the team can get more discipline and continue on some kind of a roll.

“We knew if we could get this win, it might lead to three, four, five, more, ” he said afterward. “Maybe even six, eight, 10 more.”

He has to think that way. We have to think this way: the Ticats have one win in nine games. But that’s one more than a couple of days ago.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (152 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

17 Comments on Milton: Ticats won by not beating themselves

  1. Thanks Steve, its always worth the wait for your comprehensive and thoughtful game recaps.
    With no more byes, and six points away from a playoff spot, the pressure is now really on, so hopefully the team will be able to turn a corner and make a run for it under Coach Jones.
    The positives going forward are that we have TWO games in hand on both the Argos and RB’s, and 5 games left against the East.
    The bad news is that we have four games left against the West, but who knows, stranger things have happened.

  2. 9 games left. I’ve seen them get to the grey cup with a
    6 win season (’84).
    Go cats!

  3. RalphInTheCreek // September 6, 2017 at 8:23 am //

    Is Ham’s effort to recruit new players over I sure hope not.

    • Puzzled Cat Fan // September 6, 2017 at 9:24 am //

      Why would they stop?

      In case you missed it, defensive back Osagie Odiase who caused the Argo PR fumble for a TD was signed as a FA on Aug 30th.

      It was a shaky win so I doubt recruiting / evaluating other players to upgrade the talent would stop.

  4. I posted earlier that it would be interesting if the O-Line inexplicably got better simply by switching QBs. Collarus is not the same MOP level QB he was a number of years ago. He has lost his edge and had been too slow making reads and getting the ball out. Masoli made his reads quickly and got the ball out quickly as pass patterns developed. With Collarus pass patterns were just breaking down as he held the ball too long. I had read on another thread that Collarus would have done so much better than Masoli on Labour Day. This is just wrong.

    • Hamilton’s Oline provided Masoli with 4 seconds or more to get rid of the ball on Labour Day.

      In previous games, Collaros had two seconds or less.

      Zach’s last name is spelled CollarOs.

  5. Against all common sense and logic, I predicted the Ticat win on Labour Day and said it was a sure thing. Why? I’ve witnessed more than 50 years of Argo-Ticat history, so even though I’m an Argo fan I know they always find a way to blow it. This time they had added help from the incompetent officials. Calling this game the Labour Day Classic is a joke. It should be called the Sanitary Landfill Bowl. By the way, bad officiating affects all teams. It has gone against Hamilton many times. The new commish must address this because the officials in this league too often determine the outcomes of games (calling marginal or non-existent pass interference in the end zone) and it’s never been worse. I’ve seen it all over 50 years and believe me this must stop. When the league alienates faithful, long-time fans like me it is really in trouble.

  6. This has been said before, but deserves to be said again. The TiCats did not win by not beating themselves. They were not allowed to be masters of their own fate. They won mostly because of game changing calls by the officials and the command centre. Yes, Toronto did not help their own cause. But the CFL has a systemic problem with respect to video review that amounts to a crisis. It will raise its head again in other games during the rest of the season if not addressed.

    • Puzzled Cat Fan // September 6, 2017 at 1:38 pm //

      While I agree … one wonders why there hasn’t been more of a fuss when this is been going on for years.

      If the written up Cat examples that include two games where the CFL apologised for two blown calls/command centre reviews – examples that affected Winnipeg and BC come to mind without a lot of effort.

      Hopefully in the off season the new commish can get something in place to improve things.

    • your opinion not everyone’s Frank. Masoli had his arm in a forward motion hence not a fumble. Defensive player bumped Tasker and never looked back at the ball, hence PI. So your complaints only hold water in the Argo’s leaky boat.

  7. Hamilton tried to beat themselves, they were just unsuccessful. Toronto was able to drive into game tying field goal range. Hamilton screwed up victory formation, which I have never seen. Then took another penalty on the punt. I was amazed they didn’t take a PI call on the last play.

    They have lost so many games they should have won over the years it’s nice to see some breaks go their way!

  8. Full credit to Cats for their win. How, why, by how much, how little? None of that matters – a win is a win.

    Now let’s see; Ticats in playoffs or Vegas. Hmmm, let’s do Vegas – better odds.

  9. Cats won from horrible officiating and shitty kicks by Lirim.

    • Hamilton won by improved Oline play.

      By the secondary providing better coverage.

      By the Dline and LB’s getting more pressure on Ray.

      By the special teams not letting the other team’s return man to get upfield.

      By Banks, Tasker making important catches.

      In the past Hamilton has been a VICTIM of bad or non existant officiating….it’s about time we got a break..

      • Your last line resonates the most. Anybody who has followed this TC team the last few years will tell you that only bad things happen when Proulx refs. Yesterday was an exception…sorta. I’m still trying to figure out the “illegal interference” call at the end, giving the Argo’s one last shot. I sure didn’t see Jackson fumble the ball on the preceding punt return and TC’s attempting to recover and running interference in the process. So why was Langa called?

  10. Another example of a lazy editor who didn’t watch the game or read the article before creating the headline.

  11. Anyone wonder why Ray threw a hail mary on the play before the field goal attempt? The Argos were in field goal range and a short pass or better field position would have clinched it?
    Not the type of last minute play I’ve seen in previous games?

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