The beat goes on

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Let the widespread panicking begin in Eskimoland.

The Edmonton Eskimos have now equalled their worst start to a regular season in 34 years, dropping to 2-5 after being hammered 34-17 by the first-place B.C. Lions last night.

With three straight losses and with only one win in the last six weeks, the defending Grey Cup champions continue to sink further in the West Division basement - three games off the pace.

COULD BE A DISASTER

But most importantly for the Esks, if they can't find a way to light a torch under their dormant offence, this season could become an unmitigated disaster by the end of Labour Day week.

Once known as one of the most feared offensive teams in the league, Edmonton's offence was just offensive last night, generating less than 200 net yards.

To compound that problem, the defence continues to get burned by big plays - and the perfect example came in the second quarter in front of 27,312 at B.C. Place.

With the Esks offence generating negative yards - no first downs and -5 yards total offence through the opening quarter - the defence appeared to be on the verge of delivering prime real estate to Ricky Ray.

Trailing 10-0 and somehow still in the game, the Esks just needed to stop the Lions on second and 29 from the B.C. 18-yard line.

Instead, another nightmare unfolded in front of head coach Danny Maciocia's eyes, as the Esks blitzed Dave Dickenson, but he found Geroy Simon, who blew past four Eskimo defenders for a 92-yard major to make it 17-0.

The Esks never recovered, even though Dickenson left the game - and didn't return - after suffering an ankle injury on that play.

Ray and his crew ended the first half with a downright embarrassing 22 yards of total offence on two first downs.

And while they showed a flicker of life to start the third quarter - a five-play scoring drive, capped by a five-yard TD pass to Jason Tucker to bring the visitors within 17-7 - the flame was quickly extinguished by another big play against the Eskimos' defence.

This time cornerback Keyuo Craver dived in attempt to knock down backup pivot Buck Pierce's pass to Simon near the sideline.

But he missed the ball by mere inches, leaving Simon to easily break a Kelly Wiltshire tackle and turn up field, sprinting nearly 50 yards to pay dirt to make it 24-7.

EXHAUSTED DEFENSIVE UNIT

And as if that wasn't enough for the surely exhausted defensive unit - B.C. held a commanding time of possession advantage - they were burned again on a second-and-one play-action fake late on the next series that turned into a 16-yard TD pass to defensive end Brent Johnson.

At 31-7, the fourth quarter became a painful exercise for the Esks, as they just waited for the final gun and the bus to start to the airport so they could revisit the drawing board - yet again - at Commonwealth Stadium.

FINISH LINES: The Esks offensive line gave up five sacks... Troy Davis's touchdown inside of the final two minutes of the fourth quarter was his first rushing major of the year.


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