The highs and lows of the Ticats’ 18-13 loss to the Riders


Like drinking a glass of orange juice after brushing your teeth, the Ticats and Riders played a game of “football” that made you want to vomit in your mouth. Cosmic justice would have seen the game end in a tie because neither team deserved to win. It was an ugly game made uglier for the Ticats by the fact that they dominated pretty much every facet of the game yet came away with an “L” nonetheless.

The tone of this game was set very early, on the Ticats’ first drive as a matter of fact. After marching down the field facing very little resistance, the Ticats found themselves with a second-and-two from the four-yard line. Instead of using one of their bulls — like John White, Mercer Timmis or Nikita Whitlock — to hammer it for a first down, or possibly a touchdown, the Ticats opted for a pass. That pass fell incomplete and the June Jones decided to kick a field goal.

One has to wonder just how this game would have played out if the Jones was aggressive. Worst case is that Saskatchewan stuffs them and gets the ball at their own four-yard line. Considering how little success the Riders had on offence pretty much all night, the Ticats probably get a safety out of the exchange or perhaps a punt that would have put them around midfield. But Jones wasn’t aggressive and settled for three. It was a sign of things to come.

Low: Red zone offence

After two games the Ticats were a perfect 100 per cent on red zone opportunities. Two games later and that percentage has plummeted to 60 per cent after going two-for-four against the Bombers and zero-for-two against the Riders. It is those points left on the field in a five-point game that really sting. Had the Ticats capitalized on even one of those chances perhaps the outcome is different.

Low: Sometimes numbers do lie

“Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t” is a famous line from Jay-Z, but in the case of Thursday’s game numbers definitely do lie. Let’s look at the stats, shall we.

Net offence: Ticats 418 yards, Riders 275
Passing yards: Ticats 333, Riders 148
Time of possession: Ticats 32:57, Riders 27:03
Penalties: Ticats seven for 54 yards, Riders eight for 107

When those numbers are tipped so heavily in one direction that usually means a win. It is almost unfathomable to see a team get so thoroughly dominated and come out victorious. Yet here we are.

Low: Jeremiah Masoli’s one key flaw

Jeremiah Masoli threw for over 300 yards and is now tied for the CFL record for consecutive 300-plus yard passing performances. But other than that one stat, Jeremiah Masoli had by all accounts a bad night. His 53.5 per cent completion percentage is the lowest since he became the starter last Labour Day; he threw an interception for the fourth straight game, and limiting turnovers was one of the hallmarks of his play last year; and his fumble led to the Riders’ opening score and was what flipped momentum to the home side.

But the one thing Masoli continues to do that might be the flaw in his game is that he just doesn’t seem to ever want to throw the ball away. No matter how far he is chased backwards, no matter how dead the play may seem, Masoli still tries to make something of it. It is an admirable quality, but one that can also get him into trouble. The game-sealing interception in Calgary is one example, and against the Riders, he had a couple near calamitous throws that could have easily ended up in the opposition’s hands. Jeremiah Masoli has improved by leaps and bounds over the past year, but this one flaw still holds him back.

Low: Pretty much everything after the first quarter

Even with a paltry 4-0 lead after 15 minutes, it felt like the Ticats were one play away from breaking open the floodgates. But it never happened. Instead, the Ticats played perhaps their worst football under June Jones in the final 45 minutes of the game and allowed a Riders team that had no business being in the game to stay in it and eventually win it.

Over the years I have seen a lot of bad games from the Ticats, but the loss on Thursday is one of the most disappointing non-Grey-Cup losses I have witnessed. It is losses like this that keeps this team from joining the upper echelon with the likes of the Calgary Stampeders. The Stamps find ways to win ugly, whereas the Ticats don’t. They just did so much wrong over the final three quarters in a game that was there for the taking and the Ticats did not take advantage of that.

High: Changing game plans

It wasn’t all bad, and in the interest of not being completely negative, there are a couple things I did like. First of all was the game plan in the first quarter. We saw the Ticats do what they do best, mix the run and the pass, while sprinkling in some stuff we hadn’t seen in a while, like designated runs from Jeremiah Masoli. Two of the things June Jones has done really well in his short CFL head coaching career is adapt his game plan week to week and make excellent second-half adjustments. The latter did not occur in this game — it might have been Hamilton’s worst second half under Jones — but the former did. That’s what makes this team so unique and so difficult to game plan against. You never know what you are going to get from them on a week-to-week basis.

High: The defence

You saw the Riders’ offensive numbers up top, and while some of that was their own doing (seriously, Chris Jones, with the quarterback flip-flopping), it was also due to an excellent game from the Hamilton defence. The Riders scored 18 points, and even if six of those were on the offence, if a defence holds a team to under 20 they should expect to win.

They also held the Riders without a first down on seven of their 14 drives and did not allow a single Riders receiver to reach the 50-yard mark while shutting down Caleb Holley completely and making Namaan Roosevelt a non-factor (outside of one very nice catch). Hamilton’s defence did all it could to get the win; it was the offence that didn’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Looking ahead

The Ticats now head into the first of their three bye weeks with a 2-2 record. Glass half empty says that record should be 3-1 because of how they outplayed the Riders on Thursday. Glass half full says many thought Hamilton would be 0-4 by their bye week and that Johnny Manziel would be prepping to make his first start in Week 6. So things aren’t all bad in Tigertown.

I’m sure if you had told many Ticats fans that the team would be .500 after four games against West Division opponents, three of which were on the road, they would have taken it.

The Ticats will get to exact a bit of revenge the next time they take the field as the Riders come to Tim Hortons Field for the last meeting between the two in 2018. I expect a much better game from the Tabbies in that one.

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 (398 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.

44 Comments on The highs and lows of the Ticats’ 18-13 loss to the Riders

  1. Sun always shines at McMahon // July 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm //

    Not much good comes out of losing to the riders- a team that’s been wondering through the desert for 40 years, looking for a stallion to take them to the promised land.

  2. No excuses losing to the riders

    • Puck Hog // July 9, 2018 at 7:30 am //

      Remember that, next time you come up with excuses when you lose to the Riders.

  3. Enrico Arcuri // July 8, 2018 at 5:19 pm //

    I don’t care how many consecutive 300 yard games Masoli throws for: if the guy continues to throw INTs and fails to deliverer TD strikes, then it may be time to usher in the Manziel era. All the yards in the world, between the 20s, means nothing if points can’t be put on the board. Take this to the bank: if Masoli has another bad game against the RoughRiders, at home, next week the calls for Manziel will be deafening.

  4. Dundas dude // July 8, 2018 at 5:23 pm //

    In June I would have happily taken a 2 and 2 start, but given the Edmonton and Winnipeg games, I expected better. The cats can win the blowouts, but need to learn to win their share of the close ones. This is the CFL and anything can happen, but the Cats need to take care of business and win a game against a struggling Saskatchewan in two weeks at home.

    • Tiger man // July 10, 2018 at 12:31 pm //

      It’s Masoli’s first season as THE starter.

      There will be miscues and misfires. June will get the problems corrected.

      Remember, it’s not how you start …but how you finish.

  5. One game doth not a season make.

    • Gabriel's Catch // July 9, 2018 at 9:19 am //

      That’s right, yet three games were enough to declare that the Ti-Cats had exceeded expectations in 2018. Lol…

  6. Ticats chick // July 8, 2018 at 6:24 pm //

    For goodness sakes it was a bad game I will give you that but sometimes it just happens. TSN goes on about Harris from the Redblacks being at mid season level. Well did anyone watch Harris the game before when he sucked. Ottawa had a bad game. WE know what we did and we wil adjust for next time. Short week, fatigue and we were just off. GEY OVER YOURSELVES. Fans get behind your team and know that things will change. Anyone thinking Manziel is going to come out there and throw a perfect game or no interceptions is delusional. Rest will do us well. Special teams has to come to the plate and get the ball out of deep territory. It’s amazing how opinions change after one game. Stay the course and believe the rest will follow

    • Puck Hog // July 9, 2018 at 7:40 am //

      The Riders has a short week, and they will make adjustment, too. But by reading Josh’s article, why would the Riders even bother showing up? They are a crap team that the Cats will annihilate.

  7. Just saying // July 8, 2018 at 6:46 pm //

    Josh to say the Riders have no business being in this game is a little over the top. Yes we don’t have our starting QB and our corner, but when the defence actually come to play they are the best in the league. Yes red the best! The problem is that they don’t always play. To put it plain and simple the cats saw the riders as a free pass just as we did with Montreal.

  8. Mr.Green // July 8, 2018 at 7:37 pm //

    I was at the game. It may not have been high scoring but it was such an entertaining game from my point of view. Defensive games aren’t always a bad thing. Sure I would have loved to see the Riders throw more and score more. But I was there until that clock hit zero. Great atmosphere, can’t wait for the next one!

    • Stampeding // July 8, 2018 at 8:55 pm //

      The world best football is blessing your stadium soon Mr Green

      • Mr.Green // July 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm //

        The Riders already play here so i get to see them already. If your talking about your Stumps, i’ve been really impressed how they’ve blown the past two Grey Cups!

    • Paul Bomber // July 9, 2018 at 11:21 am //

      I don’t mind a defensive battle either. Any option that could put Duron back on the other side of the ball yet? Gotta have good options for QBs at the start of their careers and Rosavelt can’t do it on his own.
      Tons of nasty comments from the Tabby faithful after their win over Wpg, so hard not to enjoy them getting a big glass of shut-the-hell-up. Don’t always enjoy Rider wins, but I liked this one.
      ‘Course, it could come back to haunt us, but I’ll deal with that when I have to.

    • Tiger man // July 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm //

      Talk about low standards….

  9. Pennyrocker // July 8, 2018 at 7:58 pm //

    If Bridge didn’t get a helmet to the ball crossing the goal line things may have been different. If only Cat fan would accept the lose we wouldn’t have this thread.

  10. Coaching mistake not to go for it on the first drive. Tolliver should have made the catch in the end zone. No way Riders make their last two plays (kudos to them). Game should not have been close. Learn but move on.

    I can think of at least two if not three INT’s that were clearly on the receiver and not Masoli. So pump the brakes on that point. And as for throwing on the run … he does it well and should continue to do it.

    However his INT at the end of the game was brutal for sure.

  11. No CFL team has ever had an undefeated season… and only once has it ever happened in the NFL (the 1972 Miami Dolphins)… so my point is… being .500 after the brutal schedule we faced is OK (glass half full)… after a well deserved rest the Ticats will come back and maul their next opponent… too bad Riders.

    • Stampeding // July 8, 2018 at 9:06 pm //

      Calgary Stampeders 1948 Grey Cup Champs 12-0

      • Huffs dentist // July 8, 2018 at 9:33 pm //

        That’s irrelevant. Its outside the 30 year window you keep telling people about.

      • The CFL was still almost 10 years away from being founded, officially.

        In 1948, Calgary played in the Western Interprovincial Football Union, and their opponent (Ottawa Rough Riders) the eastern Interprovincial Rugby Football Union a.k.a. the “Big Four.”

        Technically, Snake is correct. Though there are lots of technicalities in Canadian football history… Calgary is still the only pro Canadian team to have accomplished a perfect season.

  12. I don’t think any coach goes for it 3rd and 2 at that point in the game. You take the sure points. And certainly no coach goes for it, “because the Rider offence is struggling”, because at that point the Rider offence wasn’t struggling! Bridge won many games last year and played very well. No team is going to just assume that he’s going to struggle this year, at least not at this point.

    I’m guessing that you got caught by another one of Gasson’s screw-ups. He mentioned this in his article, but don’t forget that when Gasson writes an article his first thought isn’t, “What really happened here?” His first thought is, “How can I spin this to make Chris Jones and the Riders look bad?” When he was scanning the summary of this game after it was over and he came across this play the thought popped into his head, “The Riders offence played very poorly in this game. Why didn’t Hamilton just gamble? Worst case scenario Hamilton has the Rider offence deep in their end. And this gives me a chance to talk about how terrible the Rider offence is!” But what Gasson isn’t bright enough to catch is that the Riders had only had one series before this, a two and out, and that’s not nearly enough to conclude that their offence was going to play poorly that day. It’s easier to make this mistake when someone else has said if after the fact, because you forget about the timing. But the reason you didn’t think of it in the fist place is that it didn’t make sense at the time. At the time neither the Hamilton coaches nor the viewers knew that the Rider offence was going to struggle that day. But because Gasson doesn’t go to the games and just cobbles something together after the fact, and because he tries to twist things to suit his agenda, he makes this kind of mistake all the time.

  13. I give credit to Saskatchewans defence, they blitzed 5,6,7 guys most of the time and they played man defence that our guys couldn’t shake. Otherwise they had one good run on offence that made the difference. As a ticat fan our team needs to stay the course with minor adjustments.

    • Cat Fan // July 9, 2018 at 9:36 am //

      Not so sure it was that the receivers couldn’t shake the coverage so much as there was so little time that unless the receiver was looking for the ball right away – there was no chance.

      A few plays later in the game dealt with the rush but for far too long the assumption was that the extra blocking would handle any rushes where there was no outlet, short route. Some screens, slants and QB runs may have helped.

      Basically, I don’t think Jones was ready for the noise as well as loading up the line with an all out blitz.

  14. Chris Jones calls defensive plays as if he’s manic depressive – – from one extreme to the other.

    Case in point – – the pass rush.

    Jones was sending SEVEN (7) and sometimes EIGHT (8) guys on a blitz and it was completely useless.

    Why? Because they all just crashed straight into the line of scrimmage and formed one big pile up without ever getting to Masoli.

    Then he’d switch to the laughably ineffective three man rush that he loves so much.

    It wasn’t until the 4thQ when Jones finally sobered up and realized that letting the front four plus ONE (1) extra blitzed was far more effective.

    Not coincidentally that’s when Masoli threw up his brutal INT.

  15. No one is talking about undefeated but this last one should have been a win. It was not the CFL in 1948.

  16. As for not throwing it away that was the knock on John at Browns. Ironically Manz was penalized for not throwing it away far enough in pre season. I dont think the NFL enforces the line if scrimmage rule as additional QB protection.

  17. Cats had to take points on the first drive to keep momentum. They don’t know at that point how well Sask. is going to play on offense. Momentum shifted when next field goal was missed. Bad time to miss the first one of the season. So out of a possible 14 they get 4. Sask. gets a defensive touchdown. That was the diff.

    BTW when is the CFL going to listen to their fans and fix the officiating? Every game there are crap calls both ways. The fans know it, the teams know it, and the announcers know it. Therefore the league knows it.
    Commish are you listening?

  18. I love the Cats and they are going to be the champs this year. You heard it here first

  19. Mr. smith. Looked to me like there were two teams playing. One made adjustments to their game plan and one not so much. A little credit to the Rider’s D in this game would add a little credibility to your story. Reminder to self. Pass on future articles of this writer. By the way, I’m a Cats and a Rider fan.

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