The roots of this collapse – and it was a collapse – were in the first eight games of the season.
The habits that got ingrained into the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ behaviour over an extended period of losing – 0-8 to start this year, serial stumbles at home to finish last year – returned Saturday night. And now the Argos are virtually assured of first place in the east, and the Ticats are playing chase-the-Redblacks.
Speaking of whom, how buoyed are the Ottawa players after the Ticats blew a 14 point lead they’d mounted by early in Saturday night’s fourth quarter (and that lead itself should have been bigger) to lose 43-35 to Toronto?
Well, think of how the Ticats players, coaches and fans felt after the Redblacks collapsed late in their game Friday night: “Hey, we got these guys, right?” That’s the Redblacks today.
Hamilton took nine of the last 11 penalties in this game, and many were costly. That’s a remnant-trait from the first eight games. Oh we’re doing well? Time to hold and go offside.
The Ticats’ offence needed, what, one first down, maybe two, in the final couple of series to seal this one, that remains unsealed? The last five possessions, after a great game, they went two-and-out. Hello 0-and-8, even with a different quarterback.
And at 3rd and 17 DeVier Posey is all alone? And Ricky Ray buys himself enough time to throw after being sacked four times earlier? Has anyone ever mentioned that timing is everything?
Timing? That reminds us: once again, the Cats had trouble with clock management.The Tiger-Cats didn’t pin the Argonauts to the mat when they had a chance. Correction, when they had several chances. As it was when Zach Collaros was in there for two months, more pressure from the opposition defence hurried the offence into wrong decisions, and Jeremiah Masoli missed a wide-open Luke Tasker, which would have salted this game so far not even that GPS you’re so proud of could have found it.
For the first 47 minutes or so, the Tiger-Cats played their best game of the year. That would be almost good enough in the NBA where the games are 48 minutes long. Football plays 60, and you can win it in 12 and a bit, as the Argos did last night, and you can certainly lose it. S
One difference between this game and the first eight–besides the big ones that the Ticats were really, really good for three-quarters of it and actually scored more than 30 points–was that the Cats had a viable lead. They couldn’t protect it, partly because they tried to nurse it. Worried about something over their heads, the pass defenders let too many balls be caught in front of them.
They weren’t nearly as aggressive as they have been the past month, and were for the first 40-plus minutes. And the O finished with five, count ‘em five, two-and-outs. Perhaps it was too much to expect the Cats to easily protect a lead they could have easily protected without penalties, missed throws, loosened coverage and, yes, some severely questionable calls and reviews.
They didn’t learn how to win in the first eight games, that poor period that was twice as long as the good period that apparently began Labour Day,….and that lack of knowledge came back to haunt them Saturday night.
It is suddenly much harder for the Tiger-Cats on Sunday morning that it looked for most of Saturday night. And they can only blame themselves: and the early-season traits they picked up and haven’t yet shaken.
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