VANCOUVER -- There were more looks of shock than disappointment in the deathly quite Lions locker-room late Sunday afternoon.
The Leos went into the West Division final as 6 1/2-point favourites over the Calgary Stampeders, and their confidence mirrored that of the odds makers. So they were no doubt stunned when they ended up on the wrong end of a 34-29 decision that ended their hopes of a Grey Cup repeat.
"I didn't think it was going to be close," cornerback Dante Marsh said.
Running back Andrew Harris sat in his locker-room stall, his head in his hands for several minutes before reporters swooped in to get his thoughts.
"It stings like crazy," he said. "I don't think that team's better than us, and we just got out-played today. That's what hurts. If the team is better than us and we got dominated, then that might be easier to take, but that team's not better than us and that's what hurts the most."
The Stamps were the better team on Sunday. They had 478 yards of offence to the Lions' 367. They had two penalties for five yards. They ran the ball to set up the pass and executed beautifully. Kevin Glenn ate the secondary up for 303 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
"I'm taking nothing away from them," cornerback Dante Marsh said. "Kevin Glenn made plays when he was supposed to make plays. What can you do? S---, it just feels like a wasted season."
The Lions didn't commit a turnover, losing for the first time in 10 instances this season when they had fewer turnovers than the opposition, but they just couldn't get Harris going on the ground and failed to advance the ball down the field.
Harris had eight carries for 33 yards and caught 10 passes for 75 yards, but it wasn't enough. Lulay was good on 33 of a whopping 46 attempts but threw for just 274 yards. Drive after drive stalled, and Paul McCallum booted five field goals.
"We scored 29 points and needed 35," said Lulay, the league's reigning most outstanding player. "The two trips early in the first half, we had two opportunities in the red zone and we ended up kicking field goals. That's six points right there. You could point to a number of spots.
"We had the game tied, and we started with the ball in the third quarter. You want to gain some momentum there, and our first two drives weren't good enough to put us in scoring range. Calgary recaptured the momentum right there. That's the bottom line. They earned the win."
There was plenty of confusion in the Lions secondary throughout the contest, with arms flapping and eyes rolling following numerous big plays by Calgary.
"They were doing simple (stuff)," Marsh said. "It wasn't nothing special they were doing. That's the crazy part."
Lions head coach Mike Benevides still wants to know what happened on B.C.'s goal-line stand that never was.
Calgary did a little trickery late in the third quarter, getting backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell to throw a deep pass to Maurice Price on third-and-one from B.C.'s 43-yard line.
Price was tackled at the one-yard line, and the Lions stuffed the Stamps on their first two attempts to get into the end zone. On the third play, Mitchell plunged forward and thrust the ball ahead, trying to break the plane. It was close, but it gave Calgary a commanding 31-16 lead.
All scoring plays are reviewed in the CFL, but Benevides got nervous and threw his challenge flag anyway just as Calgary was kicking the extra point. He was denied.
"I really thought it was a stop, and I threw the flag on the ground knowing I can't challenge it because it looked like they went right into the PAT," Benevides said. "I asked (referee) Kim (Murphy), and Kim said it had been reviewed in Toronto.
"Certainly from my look it didn't look like it was a good go, but I couldn't do anything at that point other than try and make sure that it was reviewed. Kim told me it was. I thought the guys played hard there, but you can't let it get to that situation."