End of an era

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

Shannon Garrett was embarrassed.

Mike Bradley was disappointed and upset.

On the other side of the locker-room, Singor Mobley wasn't even listening to Danny Maciocia's post-game talk because he was suffering too much.

For the rest of their football careers, this version of the Edmonton Eskimos will always carry the stigma of being the team that ended the longest playoff streak in professional sports.

With a Byron Parker 75-yard interception return for a TD with 1:14 left on the clock yesterday afternoon, the Toronto Argos put the final nail in the coffin.

A 28-25 Toronto victory in front of 39,533 fans at Commonwealth Stadium is the last line in the history of 34 straight years in the playoffs.

"Nobody in here wanted the streak to end on their watch," said receiver Jason Tucker.

HASN'T BEEN WORSE

For Ricky Ray, nothing has ever been worse.

"It's definitely the low point of my career," said the highest-paid pivot in the league, who threw two costly interceptions yesterday.

But while many will hang this last loss in a historical season on Ray's errant throws, Garrett believes the blame for yesterday's defeat should fall directly at the feet of the defensive unit.

"On defence we gave up too many big plays - we just gave up too many big touchdowns," said the defensive back. "I have been embarrassed all year with the way we have been losing ... and (yesterday) sums up the whole year."

Indeed, the Eskimos repeatedly shot themselves all year and finished the year in their typical style yesterday.

The offence self-destructed in the first half by blowing several opportunities to build a 15-0 lead by early in the second quarter.

Ray threw an interception in the end zone, underthrowing Pat Woodcock.

Sean Fleming had a field goal blocked by Eric England.

Danny Maciocia elected to fake a field goal for a trick play that backfired, giving the ball back to the Argos.

At the end of that ugly run of execution, the defence began to give up the big play.

SECONDARY BURNED

Tony Miles burned the secondary for a 51-yard bomb, which set up a John Avery 23-yard TD run with 7:45 left in the first half.

Still clinging to life early in the fourth quarter, Arland Bruce torched Eskimo halfback Donald Brady for a 28-yard major to make it 21-10.

The Esks gave their remaining faithful a fleeting glimmer of hope with a Tucker touchdown with 3:52 left, but Ray ended that possibility by throwing directly to Parker for the ugliest interception of his career.

"I thought I could make a big play and it turns out it wasn't there," said Ray, who was aiming for Mookie Mitchell.

As Ray left the locker-room, A.J. Gass sat in his stall and likely summed up the team's feeling the best.

"Missed opportunities, penalties, turnovers and big plays given up on defence ... it has been the same story the entire year."

Unfortunately, this defeat will forever live in history.


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