TORONTO -- There are costly losses - and then there is what the Edmonton Eskimos just endured.
After losing star defensive end Fred Perry with a dislocated ankle in the fourth quarter yesterday, the Eskimos watched Kerry Joseph march the Toronto Argos 109 yards on 11 plays inside of the final minutes to hand Edmonton a 35-31 loss.
The ugly defeat leaves the Esks at 2-2 in the regular season and two games behind the West Division-leading Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"We couldn't make plays when we had to make plays. (We had them) pinned on the one-yard line (with 1:39 left in the game) and couldn't stop them. And there were times offensively when we turned the ball over in the red zone where we gave precious points away," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia, effectively summing up an Edmonton collapse.
The looks on the faces of the saddened Eskimo players inside the crowded visitor's locker-room at Rogers Centre said it all.
What could go wrong went wrong for the Green and Gold yesterday.
In exact order, this was the long list of problems:
- Edmonton gassed a 20-7 first half lead.
After Noel Prefontaine gave the Esks a 6-0 lead on field goals and Mathieu Bertrand scored on a one-yard run, Tristan Jackson took a 94-yard kickoff return to the end zone.
Jackson's scamper came immediately after Jeff Johnson had scored for Toronto to cut Edmonton's lead to 13-7.
- The Esks' lead evaporated early in the third quarter when Ricky Ray couldn't convert a simple third and one gamble on Edmonton's 39-yard line. Toronto took over and ran over the Esks' defence - four straight running plays - to find the end zone for a 22-21 lead.
- Ray then fumbled the ball on Toronto's 14-yard line on the next drive, killing another opportunity. Ray actually ran into his own player to force the fumble.
- Starting defensive tackle Jim Davis then rolled on to Perry's left leg with 10:26 left in the fourth quarter, snapping the ankle and leaving Perry flat on his back with his leg twisted sideways.
Maciocia tried to rally the troops on the sidelines by bringing them together for a team huddle before Perry was carted off holding his head with both hands.
With tears in their eyes, players were emotional.
"I was worried that we would let that game get away," said Maciocia. "Obviously, there were a lot of people emotionally caught up and I just tried to reassure them that we would take care of Fred and Fred would want us to go and win a football game for him."
Instead, Edmonton let a 31-25 lead slip away.
Toronto scored 10 straight points, including the final touchdown after Noel Prefontaine's punt had pinned the Argos on the one-yard line with 1:39 on the clock.
"We just let it slip away (on the last drive) - just bone-head mistakes by us," said Jackson.
In that final drive that lasted 1:16, Joseph used eight passes to pick apart the defence. The pivot then used his two feet to run 13 yards for a touchdown with 23 seconds left for the four-point lead.
Instead of leaving Rogers Centre with an emotional victory and a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2005, the Esks have just a few days to prepare to play in Hamilton on Friday.