Moral victories won’t cut it anymore for Edmonton Elks with seven regular season games to go

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The days of praising moral victories are long gone in Edmonton.

On a night in which the Elks had their best chance to put together two wins in a row for the first time this season and end an infamous home losing streak, Edmonton failed to do both by falling to Ottawa 25-18 at home in Week 12.

A few of the common themes that have plagued this team returned once again, the most obvious being the inability to put together a decent first half. Saturday marked the eighth time this year that the Elks failed to score 10 or more points in the opening 30 minutes, averaging 7.8 points per game before halftime.

Stopping the run has been a major problem all year long as the Elks have allowed a league-worst 116.8 rushing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks have had plenty of success through the air as well with a 72.5 completion percentage, which is also league-worst defensively.

Head coach and general manager Chris Jones stressed that his team needs to improve in the first half as part of putting together a 60-minute effort. The lack of consistency and inability to stop big plays on the defensive side of the ball has cost the Elks greatly in the West Division and crossover standings.

“We’ve got to do better in the first half — too many drops, not protecting the quarterback, giving up too many plays defensively. It’s the same thing as the Winnipeg game, previously, it’s the same thing as the Saskatchewan game,” said Jones. “We’ve got to figure that out as a football team. I’ve got to do a better job coaching.”

The one stable element of this team once again was Kenny Lawler, who posted a stat line of three catches for 146 yards. He made two big grabs when called upon and Taylor Cornelius made it clear postgame how important his contributions have been.

“He’s the best receiver in this league. That guy was getting double-teamed, in man coverage and he still finds a way to get open and make plays. He’s unbelievable.”

Seven more games await Edmonton with two straight meetings against Calgary next on the schedule. For Jones, this point of the season is about focusing on the games Edmonton can take care of and not paying attention to what is happening with the rest of the league.

“We’ve got seven ball games left and like I told them, anything can happen. You can’t sit there and look at what anybody else is doing, you just gotta worry about you. If things happen for you, they’re meant to happen. We can’t worry about what we don’t control.”

As it stands, Edmonton is not officially out of the playoff race. The Elks can catch the fourth-place Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-5) as well as the third-place Stampeders (6-4).

But none of that will matter if Edmonton remains unable to clean up the elements that have hurt the Elks throughout the 2022 season so far.

Avry Lewis-McDougall is a freelance sports reporter based out of Edmonton. He's covered six Grey Cups and the Edmonton Football Team since 2009, if there was an official record for youngest CFL reporter, it probably belongs to Avry.