What we learned in the Ticats’ loss to the Redblacks

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dropped a tough one to the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday. Here is what we learned.

The frustrating ebb and flow of the game

I hate saying a team should have won a game, but with the way the Ticats played, they probably should have won this game. They won the turnover battle 5-0, and they had leads of 16 and 11 at various points in this game, but they allowed Ottawa to score 19 of the game’s last 22 points to win the game. It is another loss by this team where they couldn’t close the deal. It happened against Toronto, it happened against Calgary, it happened twice against Edmonton and it happened again here. This is one of the main reasons this team won’t play beyond next Friday.

Sign the man

Brandon Banks continued his incredible second-half run by posting 193 yards on 13 catches and two more touchdowns. That brings his totals over the last nine games to 52 catches, 883 yards and seven touchdowns. Banks is just 65 yards shy of recording his first 1,000-yard receiving season and has recorded 100 or more receiving yards in each of his last five games, a mark only eight other players have done in CFL history. If Brandon Banks is not signed to an extension before free agency hits, this has all been for nothing. Sign the man!

Sign the man, pt. 2

Another guy who deserves to have his name on a new contract is Jeremiah Masoli. We saw equal parts of Masoli in this one, from the superb to the head shaking. Masol completed nearly 70 per cent of his passes for 438 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Masoli has now tossed 12 touchdowns and just one touchdown in his last six games. He has 14 TDs and five interceptions on the season, numbers that rank amongst the elite in the CFL. Many will point to Masoli’s pedestrians 9-9 record as a starter, but his counterpart in this game, Trevor Harris, has a career record of 20-19-2 and no one will bat an eye if Harris signs a big deal this off-season. Also, 9-9 over a full season would have this team in the playoffs, so while I still have questions about Masoli, some of his decision making in this game left a lot to be desired, but he has done enough to warrant an extension and return as the unquestioned starter in Hamilton.

Diontae Spencer is pretty good at this football thing

We can’t talk about this game without giving major props to Diontae Spencer for almost singlehandedly wiling the Redblacks to victory. He set a CFL record with 496 total yards, and had over 100 yards receiving, on punt returns and on kick returns. The fact that he didn’t find the end zone is remarkable. Just an all around, all world game from Spencer.

Special teams was awful

Full credit to Spencer for his game, but he was able to have so much success on special teams because Hamilton’s third unit was awful the entire night. They lost contain numerous times, were asleep at the switch when Ottawa twice tried fake punts (only one was successful) and allowed Spencer the lanes needed to pick up 363 of his 496 yards. The defense bailed out the special teams by creating five turnovers, but it was still a horrendous night by what is usually a pretty solid unit for the Ticats.

Return man needed

As odd as it is to say on a team that still employs Brandon Banks, but the Ticats have a return man problem. Demarr Aultman looked good when he was back there, but he is on the 6-game injured list, so he won’t be back. On Friday, Junior Collins handled return duties and while he was sure handed, he provided no spark with a long of just 21 yards on five returns. In a game where field position mattered, especially late in the game, the Redblacks did what they needed to do, while the Ticats did not.

Congrats to Tasker and Saunders

For the third straight year, the Ticats had a pair of receivers eclipse 1,000-yard receiving, as both Luke Tasker and Jalen Saunders hit the four-digit mark against the Redblacks. With Brandon Banks just 65 yards shy of 1,000, expect that number to grow to three in the season’s final week.

The refs were… *shrug emoji*

It wouldn’t be a Ticats game without a little referee/command centre foolery, so it is no surprise we have some controversy here. Ottawa got hosed on a couple of calls, the Tony Washington non-offside call and an illegal contact call where it looked like Shamawd Chambers shoved the defender off him. The pass interference call on Cariel Brooks was borderline, but understandable, but the big one that fans will point to is the Don Unamba interception that wasn’t.

Unamba, who had an absolutely stellar game, looked to have corralled a tipped pass for a game-altering interception, but Greg Ellingson got his hands on it and knocked it loose. It was originally called an interception and fumble and it was Ticats’ ball. But after the automatic review, the call was changed to an incomplete pass. It was close either way, but no one outside the capital region saw it as an incomplete pass. Well, expect for the people in the command centre, of course. It felt like one of those instances where it was too close to call and the call on the field should have stood. It looks especially bad because just a couple games ago, we saw a very similar play with Marquay McDaniel where the call was upheld as a catch and fumble, so to see it reversed is further proof to me that the command centre needs a complete overhaul.

Looking ahead

One game left. That is all that remains in the 2017 Hamilton Tiger-Cats season. Next week, the Ticats close out 2017 at home with a completely meaningless game against the also-out-of-the-playoffs Montreal Alouettes.

Hamilton has a chance to end the season on a winning note and provide some semblance of hope to a beleaguered fan base. It has been a tough season for the team and its fans, both on the field and off, and ending on a high might just get everyone antsy and ready for the next season to begin.

Must Read