It is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats season in one play.
The Ottawa Redblacks had just stretched their lead to eight points in the third quarter but the Ticats were driving. Facing a second-and-one on the Ottawa side of mid-field, short-yardage quarterback Jeremiah Masoli feathered a perfect pass to an open Brandon Banks, who looked to have a clear path to the end zone.
Instead, Banks dropped it. He dropped it.
It was the key moment in the Ticats 37-18 loss to the Redblacks on Friday night, dropping Hamilton to 0-8 on the season. Hamilton has not been mathematically eliminated from post-season play but it sure feels like it.
Things started decently enough. The offence managed an early touchdown after being set up by a long kickoff return from Banks, quarterback Zach Collaros hitting Luke Tasker with a throw into a tight window and Tasker taking it the rest of the way to pay dirt.
But it was a struggle the rest of the way as the Ticats managed just five first downs in the first 30 minutes, including a stretch of three straight two-and-outs in the second quarter. The Redblacks enjoyed an advantage of almost seven minutes in the time-of-possession in the first half.
Given that number, it’s hardly surprising the Ticats defence spent the first half playing bend-but-don’t-break on defence, giving up yardage by the bucketful but ultimately limiting the Redblacks to five field goals. As they’ve been all season, the Ticats were terrible on second-and-long situations, allowing Ottawa to convert a number of improbable opportunities.
The Ticats were still in it though until Banks’ untimely drop and the next few minutes sealed it.
On the next play after the miscue, the Ticats committed illegal procedure and were forced to punt. The Redblacks scored on their next possession, stretching their lead to 15 heading into the fourth quarter.
Then, more disaster. Collaros and running back C.J. Gable fumbled the exchange on a handoff and the Redblacks scooped it up and scored. The Ticats blocked the extra point and Courtney Stephen ran it back for two points but Hamilton still trailed 31-12.
Masoli took over for Collaros on the next Hamilton possession and completed four of five passes while orchestrating a touchdown drive, Banks punching it in from the one yard-line.
But Masoli couldn’t sustain his momentary brilliance and the Redblacks put it away with a touchdown with under three to play.
The Ticats will now take their second bye week of the season and return to face the Toronto Argonauts on Labour Day. A loss in that game would be another nail in the playoff coffin, if it isn’t shut tight already.