The postgame fireworks were pretty enough, but everything else about Friday’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-3 loss to the B.C. Lions was a complete and utter dud.
Just a week after looking like world beaters in the season-opener against the Toronto Argonauts, the Ticats put on one of their worst performances in recent memory, getting outplayed in all three phases of the play, committing stupid penalties and showing little intensity for much of the night.
The score line, ugly as it was, flattered the home side. And the questions this team faced coming into this season — about quarterbacking, defence and kicking — are back with a vengeance.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s numbers are deceiving — 249 yards on 26-of-39 passing — but it was a multitude of two-and-outs that prevented the offence from establishing anything resembling an offensive rhythm. The two interceptions didn’t help much, either.
“We had opportunities early, we left some throws on the field,” head coach Kent Austin said. “We also had the opportunity to get a couple of turnovers early that we typically get. I don’t know if it would have changed the game completely but that would have helped us. It just didn’t happen.”
Indeed, the defence, displayed none of the energy and playmaking ability featured in Week 1. Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings threw for 228 yards and a score while repeatedly torching veteran defensive back Geoff Tisdale, who looked a step slow and out of sorts all night.
“I have to look at myself and see what I can do better,” Tisdale said. “There was a lot going on out there. Sometimes it just be like that.”
And while the wind was certainly a factor — it was gusty and swirly and generally unpleasant — new Hamilton kicker Brett Maher missed three field goals in his first game at Tim Hortons Field, a place that is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the toughest places in the CFL to kick (B.C. kicker Richie Leone missed two field goals as well).
“I think [the wind] was a factor. I let my team down, I let the staff down, that’s how I feel after this one,” Maher said. “I just need to be better.”
There were penalties, too – 13 for 105 yards. A holding call at the end of the first half pushed Maher back and turned a makable field goal into one the wind dropped short. The defensive unit took three straight offside calls near their own goal-line that turned a second-and-six into a short-yardage touchdown. Tisdale took two unnecessary roughness calls and Maher managed to get called for a chop block.
“We’re having too many penalties right now, that’s on me so I told the team afterwards that I’ll take responsibility for this and make sure we get out guys more disciplined,” Austin said.
Were their positives? Another sellout means the streak is 18 and counting, including playoffs. Former Ticat defensive back Delvin Breaux, now with the New Orleans Saints, came back to hang with fans, lead the Oskee Wee Wee and support his old club.
They could have used him on the field.
The Ticats fall — and fall hard — to 1-1 and will now face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Thursday. They’ll also face a renewed set of core questions that they thought they’d answered.
But performance in Toronto now looks a lot like the postgame fireworks: sudden, bright but, ultimately, fleeting.