Redblacks Lose Grudge Match

After getting embarrassed in Edmonton last week, the Ottawa Redblacks spent the week owning their mistakes and vowing to be better. On a night of non-stop heavy rain, the Redblacks did indeed put forth a stronger effort, but still came up short against an Eskimo team who found a way to get the job done on the road.

Pre-game:




– All around the city, members of R-Nation got jacked up for the game

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– Distance ain’t no thang for R-Nation

– Concerns about the forecast were quickly swiped aside

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– A new outdoor patio opened on the North Side of TD Place

– Hunger was tackled

– Redblacks win the toss but decide to kick off to the Eskimos and start on defence

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1st Quarter:

– Brandon McDonald (#22) nearly picks off an errant Matt Nichols throw and the Eskimos go two and out. Grant Shaw’s punt pins Ottawa at their 8 yard line.

– Chevon Walker (#29) runs for a 2 yard gain but an incomplete pass intended for Maurice Price (#7) forces Anthony Alix (#15) to concede a safety.

– On 2nd down, Jovon Johnson (#2) loses a one on one battle, allowing a deep completion. The Eskimos continue to drive the ball down the field but Jerrell Gavins (#24) bails out the Redblacks with a beautiful end zone interception. Though he gets the pick, Gavins is flagged for objectionable conduct when he gives away the ball to a young fan in the stands.

Jerrell Gavins Cory Watson

– Ottawa fails to do anything with the turnover as Henry Burris (#1) throws another incompletion Price’s way and Walker runs for 3 yards on 2nd down.

– The Redblacks defence gets a stop but the Eskimo drive is kept alive when a lineman is blocked into Nichols’ knees and flagged for roughing the passer. A few plays later, Nichols avoids a blitzing Antoine Pruneau (#6) and hits a wide open receiver for a first down, eventually leading to a 23 yard FG. Eskimos lead 5-0.

– Walker runs for 3 yards and an incomplete pass force another Ottawa punt. The return is limited as a streaking Pruneau flies down the field and makes an excellent open field special teams tackle.

– The Eskimos go two and out.

– Ottawa goes two and out.

– Zack “Rumbling” Evans (#92) and he of last week’s big man touchdown interception, sacks Nichols to force a punt.

Damaso Munoz Zach Evans James Franklin

2nd Quarter:

– Ottawa finally picks up it’s first first down when Burris scrambles out of a collapsing pocket for a 10 yard gain. A few incompletions later, the Redblacks punt again.

– Aided by an incredible 33 yard catch from Adarius Bowman, the Eskimos march down the field and seem to be on the verge of scoring when Johnson baits and picks off Nichols for the Redblacks second end zone interception of the game.

– Burris slings it to Chris Williams (#80) twice for gains of 10 and 12 yards before a 6 yard catch by Greg Ellingson (#82) and a drop from Price led to another Alix punt.

– Weak arm tackles fail to bring down Eskimo running back Shakir Bell who busts runs of 16 and 29 yards as the Eskimos move into position for a 22 yard FG to take an 8-0 lead.

– Brad Sinopoli (#88) makes a short catch and three Eskimo defenders miss as he picks up 13 yards. Walker runs for 6 but on the following play Burris looks for Price and instead throws an interception.

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– The Eskimos punt following Evans second sack of the game, this time for a 6 yard loss.

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– Right before the end of the half, the Redblacks put together their best drive of the game. Walker takes a screen 22 yards, Williams makes catches good for 10 and 11 yards, Sinopoli picks up 21 and Ernest Jackson (#9) takes a handoff for a gain of 6. On the next play Walker gets stuffed for a gain of 2 yards, so the half ends as Delbert Alvarado’s (#48) 18 yard FG splits the uprights.

Half-time:

– TSN analyst Chris Schultz invites viewers to imagine a world where he is a cheerleader by chanting “Henry, Henry, Henry!”

3rd Quarter:

– The offence picks up where it left off, marching down the field with catches by Williams and Ellingson and runs from Walker and Burris, for another Alvarado field goal, this one from 30 yards out.

– The Redblacks defence bends but doesn’t break, forcing an Eskimo punt, but they immediately get the ball back when Williams fumbles the punt return.

– Abdul Kanneh (#14) hammers Bell who fumbles, but the ball bounces out of bounds before a Redblack can touch it. Edmonton eventually settles for a 30 yard FG to go up 11-6.

– Walker runs for a gain of 0 yards and has a pass go through his hands and the Redblacks go two and out.

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– Mr. Shoe Beer continues a fine South Side tradition

– After driving the length of the field, the Eskimos turn the ball over yet again as McDonald wins a jump ball and picks off Nichols at Ottawa’s 4 yard line.

4th Quarter:

– Energized by the third turnover of the game, Burris leads the Redblacks on a 13 play, 106 yard drive, chewing up 9 minutes and 7 seconds, hitting 7 different receivers and capping the drive off with a 1 yard QB sneak to put Ottawa up 12-11. The Redblacks go for two but the pass falls incomplete.

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– The Redblacks lead is short lived as Eskimo RB Kendial Lawerence gets behind Damaso Munoz (#45), makes a catch in stride and sprints 63 yards for a touchdown. The Eskimos fail to get the two point convert and lead 17-12.

– After moving the chains once, Jackson gets stuff for no gain on a reverse and Burris is hit as he throws, so Redblacks go two and out.

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– Chewing up precious clock, the Eskimos march down the field and tact on a 39 yard FG to extend their lead to 20-12.

– Jock Sanders (#19) fumbles after being nailed and the Eskimos recover the loose ball on Ottawa’s 39 yard line.

– Vicious gang-tackling hold the Eskimos to a two and out, but they still add a 37 yard FG.

– After hitting Williams for a gain of 6 yards, Ottawa turns the ball over on downs as Burris is sacked on back to back plays.

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-The Eskimos take over and run out the clock.

Final score: 

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Key Stats:

Burris completed 29 of 39 passes for 252 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT

Walker had 11 carries for 21 yards

Williams made 7 catches for 90 yards

Evans had 3 tackles and 2 sacks

Alix punted 7 times for 315 yards, averaging 45 yards a kick

Final thoughts:

Despite a much better overall effort, the Redblacks still fell short against a veteran Eskimo team. Offensively, Burris put together a decent performance but again had his share of mis-throws. While some might argue that his final stat line might be a bit flattering, Burris got no help from the running game and his receivers struggled to separate from Edmonton’s tight coverage.

Speaking of the running game, just like last week, Walker was pretty much invisible. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t an anomaly for Walker, who’s had issues running the ball going back to the pre-season. Though he is a dangerous threat when catching passes out of the backfield, Walker has proven time and time again that he cannot simply put his head down and run up the middle. Instead he stutter steps behind the line and gets tackled from behind. Walker’s 1.9 yards per carry average is unacceptable and you have to think that as soon as Jeremiah Johnson (#27) returns from injury he’ll get a chance to start.

At wide receiver, Williams and Sinopoli both had strong games. Sinopoli in particular showed a knack for making defenders miss, often catching the ball short of the first down marker but zigzagging his way to a fresh set of downs. One receiver who stood out for the wrong reasons was Maurice Price. Price didn’t run crisp routes and didn’t fight for positioning, regularly allowing defenders to get in front of him and break up passes. With guys like Khalil Paden (#13) and Marcus Henry (#16) on the practice roster, he’ll need to be better if he wants to keep his starting role.

As for the offensive line, it might be time for a shake up, such as inserting 2015 first overall pick Alex Mateas into the group. Too often, the Eskimos collapsed the pocket while only rushing three linemen. The only reason Burris was only sacked twice is because he took off and scrambled 4 times for 21 yards.

Defensively, aside from Evans, the Redblacks failed to generate consistent pressure from their front seven. Guys like Keith Shologan (#74) really struggled to get off blocks, and Eskimo running back Shakir Bell often slashed through the defensive line, only being touched when already deep into the second level. Despite their woes stopping the run, Ottawa’s red zone defence was fantastic, forcing three interceptions and keeping the game much closer than it could’ve been. It was also very encouraging to see the secondary bounce back after being torched last week, limiting Redblacks killer Adarius Bowman to 3 catches for 46 yards. Another promising sign from the defence was that Pruneau seems to be recapturing his 2014 form.

In terms of special teams, the kicking game was strong. Alvarado was perfect for the second week in a row, going 2/2 in FG attempts and Alix averaged a healthy 45 yards per punt. That said, sloppy coverage often led to big returns for the Eskimos.

The 21,078 members of R-Nation who showed up for the game deserve major credit for sticking it out and cheering on their team. It was the first non-sell out at TD Place in Redblacks’ history, probably due to the fact the game was played in pouring rain and competing against the Tragically Hip who were the main act at Bluesfest.

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With the loss Ottawa falls to 2-2, but R-Nation shouldn’t panic. This is a team that will only get better and with 14 games to go, still hasn’t lost to anyone in the East. The Redblacks have one week to lick their wounds and prepare for the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders who roll into town next Friday night. It’ll be the Redblacks last game before their bye, and look for the team to put forth an even better effort in front of what is likely to once again be a sold out crowd.

@RedBlackGade

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