The three goats!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

MONTREAL -- And now, ladies and gentlemen, the 'Three Goat Selection.'

1. Ed Hervey.

2. Tom Higgins.

3. Sean Fleming.

If you're playing the blame game, and this was definitely a game which came with blame for just about everybody on the Edmonton Eskimos' special teams, those are the fellas first in line for their set of horns.

The above three spoiled a whale of a homecoming for Danny Maciocia and cost quarterback Ricky Ray a three-game winning streak, not just to start the season but for his last three games against the Alouettes, including the 2003 Grey Cup game.

"We blew it,'' said Ray.

"That was our game.''

If Tom Higgins hadn't put Itty Bitty Ezra Landry on the practice roster at the start of last season, he wouldn't have ended up in Montreal and wouldn't have had two monster returns for touchdowns.

If Ed Hervey hadn't come down with a serious case of dropsy, Itty Bitty wouldn't have been able to ruin Maciocia's return to Montreal as head coach of the Eskimos. It was already 14-0 Eskimos when Ray found Hervey wide open deep in Alouettes territory. And he dropped it.

If Hervey had caught that pass early in the second quarter it could have been 21-0.

But Hervey dropped it. Sean Fleming, who hadn't missed a field goal since sometime last season, was wide from 42 yards. And Landry took it from one end zone to the other, a trip of 125 yards - the longest in Alouette history and fourth longest in league history.

WASN'T ENOUGH

If that wasn't enough, Hervey went on to deflect one into the hands of Alouette Richard Karikari which, combined with a 32-yard pass interference penalty by Shannon Garrett, turned into another TD. That was followed by a 74-yard Landry return. Hervey also dropped a pass in the endzone.

In the end, Damon Duval won it with a field goal from exactly the same distance as the one Fleming missed - 42 yards. And while there will be debate about the 0.2 seconds that left him time to kick it, the score is going to stay 32-29 Montreal and the 'L' is going to stay in the standings no matter what Maciocia says.

"You can't drop balls like that,'' said Maciocia. "They're drive killers. We had an opportunity right there to get up real big. Dropped balls and missed field goals and the fact you have to cover on special teams ...

"It's not so much what they did, it's what we did to ourselves. I'm proud of the way we came to play in a hostile environment but I'm not happy the way we gave it away.

"The real disappointing thing is that we came here to show people what we're made of and we certainly were on our way to doing that. We made tons of plays early. But we didn't have the killer instinct.''

They also didn't have Ezra Landry.

Higgins, in perhaps the dumbest decision he made as head coach other than one I can think of in a Grey Cup game, tried to hide Landry on the practice roster at the start of last season. The Als picked him off.

"I had nothing to do with it,'' said Maciocia.

Asked if he agreed with Higgins at the time, he offered a look that said plenty.

"I don't want to comment on it.''

In the first quarter Ray directed two long drives, eating up 4:20 and 6:11 respectively to take the Eskimos to a 14-0 lead.

When Hervey dropped that pass and Landry returned it, the game turned. Ray couldn't buy a first down. He was two-and-out again and again and again.

Then Hervey dropped the big one and they turned the convince-everybody-how-good-they-are litmus test into a cough and sputter what's-wrong-with-these-guys game.

TIGHT GAME

"It wasn't just one play, but it was a tight game - that's what it comes down to,'' said Ray. "It's a game of momentum. In the first quarter, they just couldn't stop us.''

Hervey bottom-lined it.

"We didn't play well. I didn't play well. There are about 95 to 100 plays in a game and it usually comes down to four or five which make the difference.

"Take those plays away ...''

The Eskimos would be 3-0 and we'd be wondering how many Maciocia would win before he finally lost one.


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