VANCOUVER - There's two ways to look at Wally Buono's controversial, and possibly game-changing, decision late in last Thursday's season opener.
On one hand, Buono, who held himself accountable for the move, showed a lack of confidence in the B.C. Lions' offence when down seven points to the Montreal Alouettes, deciding to attempt a field goal instead of pushing for a touchdown down. On the other hand, he had faith his defence would stop quarterback Anthony Calvillo and the Al's offence and to give the Lions a chance at winning the game.
The latter scenario failed to materialize but the defensive unit took note of their coach's message.
"He showed confidence in us to stop them and we didn't get the job done, plain and simple," Lions linebacker Anton McKenzie said Monday. "We got to back our coach up, and we failed to do that."
The bottom line: B.C. lost 30-26.
But the problems didn't necessarily come down to what the D couldn't do in the final minutes, rather it came from their struggles early on. The Lions surrendered three first-half touchdowns, including one on the opening drive, and found themselves in a big hole at halftime. It was a matter of "overconfidence," not nerves that led to the early deficit, McKenzie said.
"We woke up and decided to play football, we didn't change a damn thing," he said. "It was no excuse in the first half. We came out flat."
Defensive back Dante Marsh called it a collective effort that put the Lions in a come-from-behind position from the get-go and it will require a collective effort to avoid the same start when the Calgary Stampeders visit Empire Field Friday.
"The first half was horses---, excuse my language, but you got to learn this game is a game of emotions and how you deal with adversity," he said. "The flow of the game shouldn't have even been the way it was. That's something we need to improve on and we'll get it done this week."
Discipline is another area the Lions will look to sharpen after taking nine penalties against Montreal. Last season, they were penalized 196 times, a league high.
"We shouldn't be jumping offside, we shouldn't be roughing the guy after the ball is thrown. Those kind of penalties are unacceptable," Marsh said.
Brent Johnson, who recorded B.C.'s lone sack on Calvillo, said the timing of the penalties hurt the most.
"We kept their drives alive," he said. "Some of the second downs where we could have been off the field, the offsides, that's tough to take. Those are all things you can clean up. We'll have a better understanding how to do it next time."