Lack of finish kills shot at win

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

When Henry Burris watched Chris Getzlaf race 65 yards for the late go-ahead touchdown, he wasn't put in a state of shock.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback knew right away it was the price to pay after his team failed to make the most of all those earlier opportunities.

Especially moments before.

"That's what we get. We didn't convert, so that's what we get," Burris said. "We fought our tails off for four quarters, ran the clock down, got the score to put ourselves up. When you've got the chance to put the game away, put the game away."

The key to a winning football team, a championship team, is having that ability to stick a dagger in the opponent's heart when given the chance.

The Stampeders failed to do just that in last night's 24-23 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

That's why the defending Grey Cup champs sit at 2-3, one game back of both the Riders and Edmonton Eskimos.

The tipping point was Sandro DeAngelis' missed 49-yard field goal. He makes it, and the Stamps sit nine points up with two minutes remaining.

Sure, a field goal from that far out, even with the wind, is no gimme, so by no means can a loss be pinned on the kicker.

It's the fact the game came down to one missed field goal, followed by a long return and subsequent 65-yard touchdown strike to Getzlaf, the back-up receiver in the game for the injured Andy Fantuz.

When it came down to the crunch, Saskatchewan's receivers, notably Getzlaf and Weston Dressler, were the playmakers.

Calgary's weren't.

"We didn't execute when we got down there. When we get down to the red zone, we've got to capitalize with touchdowns instead of field goals, especially in a game like this," said receiver Jeremaine Copeland. "When we did execute, we had bad penalties to keep (their) drives going or to stop drives."

It was a CFL game played almost NFL-style. Long, time-eating drives were the norm. Ending in field goals. Or at least field-goal attempts.

DeAngelis made his first three to run his perfect record to start the season to 13 before missing. Saskatchewan's Luca Congi was one-for-three, sending one wide with the wind and clanging one off the post in a missed opportunity that didn't come back to bite the visitors. Calgary's dressing room wasn't allowed that sigh of relief.

The loss of Ken-Yon Rambo certainly had an impact, although Ryan Thelwell, at least until he left the game, Titus Ryan and Jeremaine Jackson combined for more than 100 yards receiving in his place. Copeland had a respectable night, four catches for 45 yards, and Nik Lewis had three receptions for 27 yards, none in the second half, although he had only one ball fired his way in the final 30 minutes. (He refused to talk to media after.)

Combined with a great ground game from running back Joffrey Reynolds -- 112 yards on 14 carries -- it should have added up to better than 23 points in a losing effort. All that was missing was one last play to reach pay dirt.

"We had a good balance tonight," said head coach John Hufnagel. "We ran the ball well. Before the end of the game occurred, we had good pass protection and a good pass percentage.

"We stubbed our toes in the first half by not scoring touchdowns. We were fairly close and that cost us some points and it haunted us."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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