What we learned in the Ticats’ ugly 27-19 loss to the Riders

Let’s not sugarcoat this at all: this game was ugly. I’m talking seeing-your-grandmother-naked ugly.

The Riders escaped from Tim Hortons Field with a 27-19 win in a game that probably had about a half dozen decent drives combined between the two offenses, but will mostly be remember for some baffling coaching decisions inside the red zone.

The Ticats now drop to 2-9 and that slim margin for error to make the playoffs just became slimmer.

The last play

We have to start at the end where the Ticats had the ball at the Saskatchewan one-yard line with five seconds left down by eight. They had one play to try to extend the game, but Jeremiah Masoli’s pass fell incomplete and the Ticats lost. Talking with Ticats fans after the game, it was clear that everyone rightfully thought the ball should have been pounded in by either Masoli himself or C.J. Gable. But instead June Jones opted to spread them out and throw it.

I have been trying to figure out why Jones would do that and the only thing I can come up with is that throwing the ball gave them four or five options to convert as opposed to one if they ran it. I still disagree with the decision, though. It wasn’t the only instance of a coach outthinking himself in the red zone — Saskatchewan running two plays inside the five with Vernon Adams early in the game was bafflingly stupid — but the call that could have kept the game going (if they would have also converted their two-point try) is going to get more scrutiny.

The challenge

Hamilton had a bunch of miscues and missed opportunities in this one (more on that later), but one that was out of their control and may have gone the wrong way was when June Jones challenged illegal contact after a Jeremiah Masoli threw an interception to Ed Gainey in the end zone. The pick snuffed out a promising Ticats drive that was going to net the team at least three points, which would have come in handy late in the game.

Unfortunately for me, the replay was not shown at Tim Hortons Field, so I can only go off secondhand information as to if the call was right or not and from the sounds of it, it was not. None other than our own Steve Milton believes the command centre blew another one.

The spit

Demond Washington, who was having a horrible game to begin with, got ejected for spitting on a Saskatchewan player. Reports first indicated it was Naaman Roosevelt, and then it came out that it was Derek Dennis; but the who is immaterial as you simply cannot spit on an opposing player. That is some grade-school-level garbage and is indefensible. Expect Washington to be fined and rightfully so.

The running game

The numbers weren’t spectacular from the tailback, but the Ticats seem to be focused more on running the football under June Jones than they ever were under Kent Austin. In total, the Ticats ran the ball 16 times for 88 yards, and while the biggest chunk of those yards came from the quarterback, I still like that the running game is back to being a cog, let alone an important one, in the offense.

I also like that the team didn’t abandon the run when the Riders took a big lead or when getting yards was tough. C.J. Gable had just a 3.7 yards-per-carry average, but that didn’t stop them from trying to pound the rock. Except on the last play, but we have already gone over that.

The defense

Many will see 27 points and think the defense didn’t do its job, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This defense kept this team in the game. The Riders had three first downs in the second half and they all came on the same drive. The Riders went two-and-out on eight of their last nine drives including on their final six drives. That is the defense keeping a team in a game.

The Don

Hamilton has run guys through the secondary all year for various reasons, but one guy who seems to have found a niche for himself is Don Unamba. The former Alouette and Blue Bomber had easily his best game as a Ticat as the boundary corner. He made a huge play near the end of game, playing tight coverage on Naaman Roosevelt and knocking the pass down. Chris Jones would challenge for illegal contact and would lose because it was a perfectly defended play by Unamba.

Jones’ hands

How far Mike Jones has fallen over the course of the season is stunning. He started the season very well, putting up numbers that would have ranked among the league’s elite wide-side receivers and then the issues with drops and fumbles started to occur. He had another fumble in this game early and that was pretty much it for him for the night. These have been problems for weeks and players are noticing. Enter Spencer Watt, the man who was released this spring so Jones could have a larger role.

The MOP kicker

Sergio Castillo was fantastic yet again, going a perfect four-for-four on field goals again and averaging 52.3 yards per punt, a few of them wind-aided. Castillo has bene Hamilton’s most consistent player and while he doesn’t have the volume of some of the league’s other top kickers, he has the highest success rate for any kicker with more than 20 attempts. He has missed just twice on the year and when the time comes to fill out an awards ballot, Castillo is going to get serious consideration as the team’s most outstanding player.

No boos for O’sh

Kudos to Ticats fans for not booing Mike O’Shea when he was introduced for his Hall of Fame induction at halftime. It was smart of the Ticats to mention is rookie of the year award, that he won with the Ticats, at the end of his introduction, but I was expecting O’Shea to receive some boos and he didn’t, at least as far as I could hear.

Looking ahead

As far as losses go for a team that desperately needs wins, this one wasn’t so bad. Losing to a West team is infinitely better than dropping one to an eastern squad, but this just means the Ticats are walking on a razor’s edge with how many more games they can drop before this is all over.

In the next four weeks, the Ticats will face three West opponents and only one of those games is at home (and that one is against Calgary), so this loss does hurt their chances.

Next up is the B.C. Lions in a very late start in Vancouver next Friday. That game won’t kickoff until 11pm Hamilton time, which is going to really mess with the players’ internal clocks. The Lions, who many thought would contend for first in the West, are in a dog fight with the Riders and Esks for the final two playoff spots (one of which will be a crossover into the East) and they need all the wins they can get. This is going to be a tough one for the Ticats to pull out, but if they can find a way, all the talk will go back to this team doing the unthinkable and rebounding from an 0-8 start.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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Josh Smith
About Josh Smith (303 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

25 Comments on What we learned in the Ticats’ ugly 27-19 loss to the Riders

  1. Although I’m a Rider fan and enjoy countless stories where my team gets bashed by a few. I am a CFL fan and quite certain there must be some content for the fans of the other 4 teams playing today ? Just my 2 cents plus tax

  2. white stallion in red // September 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm //

    Other than some early mistakes and idiotic behavior I though Hamilton played better. Particularly in the 2nd half. You won 2 in a row and could/should have won this. I dont think it’s all bad in steeltown.

  3. There is no doubt that Damarr Aultman must get back his receiver position:he’s powerful and fast and should be a vital part of the offense.This man could be our Tiger-Cat find for the season.

  4. Dan Bombers // September 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm //

    Glad to see Castillo doing so well I really liked him when he was in Winnipeg good player better person

    • He’s been our best player. Ironically, the K/P position was the biggest worry leading into the season, which is quite funny given how this season has played out.

  5. They didn’t have “one play” to extend the game, they had five seconds. Had they called a run and it didn’t succeed, they likely still would have had another play.

  6. David Carswell // September 16, 2017 at 4:05 pm //

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way….Turnovers killed the Cats….17 points off of turnovers in a one score game is the glaring difference….That being said I do have a rant….What is the point of calling a penalty which has absolutely no impact on the team with the violation (and an argument could be made that it actually impacted the other team more)….Last play of the game, 1st and goal from the 1 and Saskatchewan’s Chris Jones calls a timeout (which he doesn’t have) and is penalized for delay of the game (there is no change in ball position as they are already on the 1; there is no change in down, as they are already first down)….in the end Saskatchewan actually does get their time-out, as while the refs figure out that they have no timeouts left and figure out the (non) penalty Jones’ defence is able to get play calls from the sideline, catch their breath and reset – meanwhile, one could argue that the rhythm of the offence, who had been marching down the field , was interrupted. The rules state that the game cannot end on a penalty, and yet this final play (an incompletion) was the end of the game as the “penalty” had been called prior to the snap of the ball – had Saskatchewan been offside (or any other infraction) there would have been one more play (because of the above rule) BUT because their coach was “penalized” it had absolutely no impact. To my mind the final play of the game had a penalty therefore the game should not have ended regardless of the zeroes on the clock….just my “armchair coach” take on a bad ruling……

    • Double Blue // September 18, 2017 at 11:02 am //

      @ David Carswell, you have a legitimate beef with this. This has always been a bit of an issue, in that circumstance the defending team can take a penalty with absolutely no penalty. It is something that should be addressed, b/c anyone who thinks Jones thought he had a time-out is fooling themselves. Jones knew exactly what was going out there. He knew they didn’t have a time-out and by the time refs figured it out and issued a meaningless penalty he would essentially get a freebie. Smart move by Jones taking advantage of the rules

  7. Jake E. Snake // September 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm //

    That’s right Hamilton fans. Like Horsie previously said, it’s not all that bad. At least you aren’t going to lose your football team because your hockey team leaves town and the group that owns them could care less about them once the hockey team leaves. Yes Bo Levi would look great in black and yellow!!

  8. Regarding the last play and the rationale behind it: The Tiger-Cats have to set up not only the score, but the two-pointer to tie. Cue the playcall, to throw a really quick-hitter to put points on the board, and leave time on the clock for one more play if it’s incomplete. If they had scored the TD, the next play would have also been spread out, forcing the Roughriders to man up across the field, and this time Masoli or Gable powers in up the middle for the convert. The run would have been the safer play, but from two-yards out instead of one, so they’d want to run out of the spread to make the Roughriders respect the pass, seeing as Hamilton would have just proved they could score with it.

    The trouble is (and this will also be the trouble if Manziel signs here) Masoli has no situational awareness and improvises too much. Instead of hitting Brandon Banks on the slant over the middle (Casey Rodgers was there but didn’t have position; at worst he would have broken up the pass with two seconds left), Masoli takes all the time off the clock throwing to the Saunders running the deep in, who was triple-covered by the way. He never even looked at Banks, and there went the last-ditch punch-in for the touchdown with it.

    With the loss, the Cats are done. Stop wishing for the playoffs. Keep fighting, but let’s see what the kids can do, starting with Everett Golson.

  9. Re: “Your comment is awaiting moderation” — 3DN, what kinds of posts trigger that?

    I’ve had it happen several times lately (as have others, who’ve noted it too) after submissions I thought were totally fine in terms of content. I’m sorry, but it’s frustrating and I’m not sure the posts ever do get “moderated” and released, and if they do does it happen while the blog article is still fresh enough.

  10. Wow, pretty empty stands in Calgary. Probably not even 20k people there.

  11. Release Mike Jones…useless and terrible play call at the end pond it in I agree

  12. Saynotoapathy // September 16, 2017 at 7:37 pm //

    I second Randy’s motion about Mike Jones. Mike Jones is a wasted uniform.

  13. That last play reminded me of the Super Bowl, with Patriots VS Seahawks, from the 1 yard line, Lynch didn’t get the carry, and Seahawks threw an INT to end the game? Pete Caroll was the goat on that. (If it worked-He would have been genius) and won the Super Bowl. With Ti-Cats on the 1 yard line and 5 seconds to go in the 4th (needing a 2 point conversion) to tie the game elected to go with a passing play, if Saunders did catch the ball, and Ti-Cats made the 2-point conversion, the game would have gone to O.T. and Ti-Cats had the momentum in the 2nd half and their defence was playing good. Why not use C.O. Prime? he’s 245 pounds, back up linebacker and fullback. Either as a decoy or give him the ball and punch it in from the 1 yard line. He is basically used as a special teams player and an ornament on offense. Ti-Cats beat themselves, with turnovers, and undisiplined playing. Spitting? Come on-25 yards and led to a TD very next play. With Argos winning today against E.E. today, the chances don’t look good for sure, regarding making any playoffs now.

  14. I think Mike Jones should be relegated to the practice roster and told to spend all his time in the weight room until he develops a football player physique and then see what he can do in 2018. The last play of the game should never have been out of the shotgun – at least disguise it a bit with a couple of backs in the backfield that could either stay in to block or do a little play action and throw it. The 2 point play would almost always be a throwing down so maybe a run would have been the better option. If they were stood up at the line, we might all be saying they should have tried a little flip pass or something too.

  15. When this 2017 season mercifully comes to an end, the TC’s will look at games they could have, should have won…this one and the one against the Esks at home fall into that category. Good teams find ways to win…bad teams find ways to lose…there is no question this team is the latter. Forget Manziel. Even God would have difficulty helping this bunch find the road to competence.

  16. What, no mention of Banks’ flop to draw the PI? He deserves an Emmy for that.

  17. Just not sure what we expect from this team . Great they won 2 in a row but fact of the matter is they started 0-8 very hard to climb out of that hole .if you look at this offence can you sit and tell me of one outstanding player that matched some of the elite receivers in the league ? Not one right now stands out to me . I want this team to pull out a miracle and make a playoff appearance but let’s be honest even if that were to happen they cannot compete against the league’s best and the ultimate goal is the grey cup and this team is not even close to competing for that . The brass of this team bring in players who they believe will turn this team into a winner but all we see is players who can’t stay healthy and players with sub par talent . Don’t get me wrong there are some very talented players on this team but no elite game changers .and it seems that alot of players that have come and gone become elite under different teams. There’s is definitely something off in tigertown and so much drama don’t tell me its not a distraction. And as we wait on the Manziel bs there could be a lot more .

  18. I can’t believe the Cats play an 8pm pacific/11pm eastern road game. They might as well just give the 2pts to BC and save $ on the trip. That’s some next level BS. I can see *why* they’re doing – TSN wants a Friday night double header, but they can’t schedule Wpg and BC as the home teams for that.

    This year’ schedule has been insane for many teams.

  19. The call on the challenge was correct. The defender was backing up and the receiver running forward lightly bumped or touched the defender. Not the other way around. This type of play was shown to the league about 6 weeks ago. The slight slight bump did not in anyway impede the receiver from making his cut left. The defender has every right to that spot on the field and if the receiver tries to go to a spot were a defender already is. The slight contact was delivered from the receiver. So therefore there is ZERO interference and ZERO illegal contact on the defender.

  20. Truthfully I wish Glen would have played. Then the Riders would have stomped the TigerCats. Just like they did earlier in the year. Hamilton chose to play Massoli. Where as for precautionary measures Chris Jones sat Kevin Glen.
    Plus I’m feeling very positive that the offence would have probably sustained far less injury having a QB that executes plays much faster and far more in rythm with the starters. Instead everyone is having to adjust to a QB that is not in sink with the Offence.
    I know Brandon Bridge is Canadian and all. But I’m sorry! There is no way in hell that Brandon Bridge will ever be a starting CFL QB. He just dosent have what it takes. The Riders have released far better back ups in the past. The second Jones finds a QB that can take over from Glen in the next year or so. All QBs in camp other than Glen will be replaced.
    Please MacAdoo… Stop inserting Vernon Adams behind Center inside the red zone. Unless the Riders are on the 1 yard line. It’s been embarrassing to watch. It’s an experiment that has failed badly and it needs to go away. I’ve seen peewee teams execute an option play better than Adams and Lefrance did. It was a pitiful site!
    SK plays Calgary next which will give them a gauge of how far they have come. Then it’s SK turn to play several Eastern teams. The schedule that both the Bombers and the EE had at the beginning of the schedule. Now it’s time to move on up in the Western standings and in a hurry. Watch over the next few weeks how SK climbs into 3rd and then 2nd place. I’m not taking anything away from the Bombers. They have a very good team. I’m strictly going by who plays who over the next 4 weeks.

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