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TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

CALGARY -- Edmonton beating Edmonton. Again. Still.

When you look back at why the Eskimos missed the playoffs for the first time in 35 years -- and they pretty much must run the table to avoid it now -- this one should rank (and it was rank) right up there with the other massive messes they've made.

Oh, this wasn't giving a game away to Winnipeg on a last-play 100-yard touchdown by Milt Stegall with nobody back in coverage or like losing on a last-play bobbled snap by Jason Johnson against B.C., etc., etc.

With this one the Eskimos looked like they lost hope. With this one, a 44-23 Labour Day loss to the Calgary Stampeders, coupled with a Saskatchewan win in their Labour Day weekend game, there was body language that suggested the defending Grey Cup champions lost belief they were going to get better.

With this one, there was the feeling that nobody is going to be able to put these Humpty Dumptys together because they're incapable of coming together, playing for each other and making plays instead of making mistakes.

The loss left Edmonton six points out of a playoff position. But it's worse than that.

STUMBLING, BUMBLING

With a 17-day break between games to game-plan and to refocus to turn into a different team than they were in the first half of the season, the Eskimos returned as the same sad sack, stumbling, bumbling masters of their own disasters.

Head coach Danny Maciocia didn't ask for a cigarette and a blindfold as he faced the firing squad -- which could become quite literal if he loses again Friday -- after the Eskimos soiled the sheets again here yesterday. But he looked like a beaten man.

"I'm going to have to find a basilica to visit in Edmonton," he said.

One more loss and he might as well bring back a priest to perform last rites.

"We're still doing dumb things."

The number of times they took penalties, turned balls over for touchdowns and otherwise defeated themselves in this one was beyond belief.

"It's bizarre, it's strange, it's weird," he said of the number of ways to lose a football game his team has managed to invent. He said if there was a column in the standings for a team beating itself "we'd probably be leading right now."

It's like they're trying to set a league record for screw-ups. "Maybe I'm going to get them all out of my career in '06."

The number of missed tackles in this game was massive for the Eskimos.

"Missed tackles -- the fundamentals," moaned Maciocia. "Their last TD was one on a missed tackle."

Early in the game the Eskimos stopped Calgary on second down, but an unnecessary roughness call on Jonte Buhl kept the drive alive. A pair of missed tackles on the next two plays set up a field goal. A 57-yard run by Calgary's Jeremaine Copeland involved two more missed tackles.

A 40-yard big play pass to Ed Hervey was called back on a holding call to Tim Bakker. A return of a punt to midfield by Tony Tompkins was nullified by a Singor Mobley holding call. A roughing the passer call on Charles Alston allowed Calgary to keep the ball and ended up in a Henry Burris run for a touchdown with one second to play. An illegal procedure call on Patrick Kabongo wiped out a Sean Fleming field goal. Fleming came up short on the do-over from five yards further away. A Troy Davis fumble was returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

It went on and on. And the butcher bill for this one, with the injuries and three days between games, is going to be high.

Edmonton beating Edmonton?

"That's been our story all year long," said quarterback Ricky Ray. "We continue to beat ourselves. We haven't been able to overcome all our mistakes by making plays. We're just not making plays. That's what makes us a very average football team."

"Right now we're just not playing assignment football," said Mobley. "It's getting frustrating. We're just not doing our jobs."

Maciocia said the Eskimos can't even consider thinking about having to run the table and win all their remaining games after what happened here.

CUT DOWN ON MISTAKES

"All we can look at is showing up for the next one and making less mistakes," he said of the rematch in Commonwealth Stadium Friday. "I don't know about running the table. We better not be thinking of stuff like that. We better be thinking of just playing better. If we don't start playing better, we're not going to have to worry about getting in."

This team came here talking about how they still believed they were a good team. They left here looking and sounding like a team that no longer believes they are going to be able to salvage their season.


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