Wheels have fallen off as Esks give up

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

They didn't even show up.

Then they gave up.

And it's about that analysis last week when the Edmonton Eskimos became the first team in the CFL to beat the B.C. Lions this season. You know. The stuff about the real Eskimos showing up. Is it too late to take that back?

The Eskimos, by not showing up and then giving up in losing 40-14 to the Tiger-Cats in the Hall of Shame Game in Hamilton last night devalued everything they did the week before.

HALL OF SHAME GAME

And maybe they just stood up and announced last night that the real Eskimos are the team which wins one game and shows up as Flat Cats to play the Tiger-Cats.

There's an old press box joke with writers on deadline, phoning their sports desk when the game changes on the last play: "Everywhere there I wrote 'horsebleep' can you change that to 'inspired'?''

Well, this was the opposite of that.

Everywhere last week that I wrote 'inspired' can you change it back to 'horsebleep'?

You can't jump to a 25-1 lead on Labour Day and then put it in neutral for the second half. You can't show up in the rematch and expect to start with that 25-1 lead again. You can't go to Saskatchewan and come home and admit you lost because you didn't dial it up. And you can't expect the two-win Hamilton Tiger-Cats to make you an official presentation of the two points while you're out there for the coin toss.

Or maybe you can. Maybe the Eskimos figure if they show up and play, oh, maybe, four or five 60-minute games, that should do it to win the Grey Cup. So far they've played two.

Football is an emotional game. You can't just show up with your reviews from the B.C. game in your pocket, flash the 'EE' on your helmets around and expect the Tiger-Cats to faint.

It was so obvious that even the TV guys made mention of it early in the Eskimos 40-14 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Chris Schultz used the word "flat'' in the first quarter. TSN showed the Eskimos on the bench with body language suggesting they had little more than casual interest in the proceedings. Joe Montford seemed to be more concerned about trying to make an impression returning to Hamilton than about Edmonton as he took five penalties - three offside calls, one roughing the passer and one unnecessary roughness.

Penalties, tackling and special teams play always tell the story about how prepared a team is to play.

Last week against B.C., the Eskimos - who came into the game as the most penalized team in the league - kept it down to 44 yards. They were disciplined. Special teams had a rare near-perfect game. And the tackling was terrific as they swarmed to the ball like they were early in the season.

Last night, the Eskimos took 18 penalties for 139 yards. 'Nuff said right there.

Special teams were a mess.

Tackling was atrocious.

The offensive line, which blocked - actually and successfully blocked - against the Lions, gave up on the final series when the game was over and left Ricky Ray back there by himself. They didn't even try to stop the rush. They just stood up and waved 'em on though.

It was criminal.

LET HIM GET KILLED

And what was Ray doing out there at that point anyway? That was not the time and place to finally give Jason Maas a few reps. That was a place to put in third-stringer Jason Johnson and let him get killed.

Sure they looked great when they decided to dial it up against the Montreal Alouettes, the B.C. Lions and in that first half down in Calgary which was barely good enough to stand up for a win.

But look at the other games against the opposition they obviously deemed inferior. Those are the only games they won of eight in that run. And this is a team which has now lost three of its last four games.

One thing is different about this one than all the other losses. Until this one they could try to con themselves that the officials were against them, they weren't getting the bounces, etc., etc., because they lost by margins of three, six, four, five and one - a total of 19 points.

Well they lost that one last night by 26!

They were only fooling themselves.


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