That hurts!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos couldn't have asked for a worse weekend.

Not only did the Green and Gold lose on Friday night, but they had to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the B.C. Lions 23-20 yesterday afternoon, delivering another crushing blow to the West playoff hopes in Eskimoland.

"It has been that kind of season," lamented Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia after watching B.C. blow a glorious chance to win in overtime, putting the Esks six points behind Saskatchewan for the final West playoff spot with five games left.

And if that isn't enough bad news for Edmonton, the door to the East Division crossover berth is all but locked after Winnipeg beat Montreal yesterday to create a three-way tie for first-place at 14 points.

But at the moment, the focus is on the West Division mess the Esks find themselves in because it offers the best mathematical option - although the odds are not good at all.

In the simplest terms, Edmonton now needs a minor miracle in this disastrous season to extend their playoff streak to 35 consecutive years because their Tragic Number is now three.

Any combination of Eskimo losses or Rider wins that equals three will end the famous post-season streak.

ELIMINATION TIME?

In other words, if the defending Grey Cup champs lose next weekend in Regina, they could be eliminated on Thanksgiving Day.

The picture would have been a little more hopeful this morning if the Lions hadn't self-destructed in overtime in Regina.

In ironic fashion, the Lions shot themselves in the foot just like Edmonton has so many times this year.

"I thought B.C. had it in overtime," admitted Maciocia. "Clearly they didn't capitalize on their opportunity to win."

The Riders failed to score on their first overtime possession, meaning B.C. just had to produce a single point on their series, which started at Saskatchewan's 35-yard line.

But instead of running a few offensive plays to get into better scoring position, Lion head coach Wally Buono elected to punt on first down, asking Paul McCallum to nail the ball 65 yards through the end zone for a single point.

McCallum was about 15 yards short, allowing the Riders to easily run the ball out of the end zone and prolong the game, which they eventually won on a Andy Fantuz touchdown.

But Maciocia isn't livid at Buono - his close friend - for the latest incredible gaffe to hurt the Eskimos. "I am not going to blame Wally for this," said the Edmonton bench boss. "Obviously, it doesn't help, but we clearly created this situation (in the standings)."

The playoff news is even uglier in the East Division, where a crossover berth is now seven points away because Edmonton has to finish one point ahead of the third-place East team to qualify.

That means the Esks' Tragic Number in the East is two, but Montreal has lost six straight games and the Esks have one more game against the Als.

NEW BLOOD: Maciocia was being very coy last night, but it appears Edmonton is very close to announcing the acquisition of one or two new players. The official news could come as soon as today, but coveted offensive lineman Steve Morley isn't a possibility at the moment. "My understanding is that he's in a waiting game with the NFL," said Maciocia.

FINISH LINES: The Esks are hopeful that starting fullback Mathieu Bertrand can return to the field this week after battling a shoulder injury.


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