Lions didn't step up, says Dickenson

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

Wally Buono has never coached in a football game he hasn't wanted to win.

So he wasn't interested in discussing what his team learned by losing 37-20 to the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday. He didn't care how his team now did not have to worry about the burden of maintaining an extended winning streak.

No, all Buono was concerned with was the fact his Lions were outplayed by a desperate Eskimos team at Commonwealth Stadium.

"I never think losing is a good thing," said Buono. "I would have gladly come out of here 12-0. The Eskimos are fully deserving of the win. They played harder, they played with more intensity and they played with more purpose, and to me, that was very evident."

Coming into Edmonton, the Lions were facing an Eskimos team which had lost their last two regular-season football games. The Lions had not lost a regular-season game since October of last year, a streak of 14 games.

STARTED BAD

But things started bad for the Lions as quarterback Dave Dickenson had his second pass of the game intercepted by Eskimos safety Kelly Wiltshire. The Esks went on to score the game's opening touchdown four plays later.

From then on in, it was an uphill battle for the Lions.

"They really decided to play us physical and challenge us and we made hardly any plays," said Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson. "They challenged us and we didn't respond to the challenge."

To their credit, the Lions did battle back from a 20-12 deficit. Dickenson put together two long drives in the second half which pulled the Lions even.

But then, after a 68-yard B.C. drive tied the score, Eskimos return man Tony Tompkins took back the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for the touchdown to swing the pendulum back in Edmonton's direction.

CAUGHT A CREASE

"It's hard to say whether someone missed an assignment on the kick return," said Buono. "He caught a crease on us and you have to give Edmonton credit, they did a nice job of blocking for it."

After Tompkins' return, it was lights out for the Lions, who then surrendered another 10 points to the Eskimos in the dying stages of the game.

And while some might think the loss may have lifted a monkey off the Lions' back, Buono wasn't buying it.

"It's not off mine," he said. "I would gladly have continued the streak. But the Eskimos played better tonight and they deserved to win."


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