ULLRICH: After loss to Redblacks, answers for Lions loss easily found on reflection

Time ran out on the B.C. Lions Friday but there’s no time like the present to dispatch the following unsolicited observations about their 29-25 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks.
Look in the mirror: That’s where the Lions will find most of the answers as to why they coughed up a 10-point lead in this one. In a four-point loss you don’t have to look far to discover why they are now 2-3, and while that’s better than lamenting the absence of proper quarterbacking like two games ago they’ll be caught in the downdraft of divisional opponents all season without demonstrating better self-awareness.
Take your pick of bonehead mistakes.
— Arguably, they saved the worst for last when the offence was flagged for delay of game resulting in a crucial loss of down with 2:22 left. The result left Travis Lulay more outraged than at any point of his Lions stay, though whether he was mad at the officials or the lack of a quick play call wasn’t clear.
“How can you not realize the clock was running down? He thought he got the ball off on time. He didn’t,” Buono told TSN 1040.
Lulay strongly denied he has lost track of time when it mattered most.
“I’m staring right at (the clock),” he said. “Wally’s point was don’t make it close. Trust me, I was hurrying. The official just made the call.”
— In addition to missing an early field goal and having a punt blocked, Ty Long fumbled another snap that turned into three points for the Redblacks.
— Winston Rose missed making an interception that at worst would have likely resulted in field position and easily could be argued he would have scored. Anthony Thompson had two chances for picks and flubbed both of them. One miss allowed another Ottawa drive to continue for three points.
— The most egregious error, however, cost the Lions three more points when Odell Willis was flagged for objectionable conduct on a punt play, turning a two-and-out into a 13-play Ottawa drive, prompting Wally Buono to push Willis and bench him briefly. It appeared as if Willis felt compelled to venture into the Ottawa bench when leaving the field (explain please why both benches are on the same side?) and make contact with Redblacks assistant Leroy Blugh to incur a totally needless flag. Somewhere, Jason Maas might have been smirking.
That Willis and the defence held Ottawa to a field goal is commendable, but there’s already enough mistakes listed here to reverse the outcome. This team simply isn’t good enough to make that many errors and survive.
Wave the flag: It was fair game for several years to take shots at Buono for the chronic lack of non-import talent on the Lions but those days are definitely gone at present. B.C. began the game starting nine Canadians, five of whom were its own Canadian college draft selections plus four on defence, and hit double digits starting the second half. Yes, injuries necessitated the moves but nobody clearly seemed overmatched.
Of the Lions 16 draft picks taken the last two seasons, four have had starts, including Jordan Herdman, who had 12 tackles in his CFL debut replacing the injured Solomon Elimimian. Twelve of the 16 are still either active or on the practice roster.
The upcoming bye week will undoubtedly allow the Lions to get some players back into the lineup. It also should allow Buono time to rethink how the ratio was constructed this season and whether or not there might be options to redeploy their import talent.
Run stopped: There were a few other positive takeaways, like Herdman and the impressive work of Brandon Rutley (17 carries, 91 yards) before he was injured. Another uplifting outcome is that after four games in which they allowed 152 yards on average along the ground the Lions limited Ottawa to 67 yards rushing, including 50 to the third-best rusher in the CFL at present, William Powell.
Each of their first four opponents had torched the Lions savagely along the ground and it had reached the point of no return if they couldn’t at least limit the Redblacks running game. Problem was they had no answers for Trevor Harris on Ottawa’s final drive, allowing 80 yards in 1:09 prior to Powell’s game-winning touchdown. If they look in the mirror, they know the truth.

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.