Green and Gold blew it

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Eskimos lost their defensive leader when A.J. Gass lost his head and set some sort of CFL record for helmet-tossing.

And the Eskimos lost the game when they pulled their best player, quarterback Ricky Ray, for two plays from inside 21/2 yards.

Danny Maciocia's team could have been three points up on the Stampeders if Gass had his own helmet screwed on straight (or at least on).

They wouldn't likely have dropped into last place in the CFL West if Stefan LeFors hadn't been Jacques Chapdelaine's choice to get the Eskimos to the endzone on first and 10 from 21/2 yards out with less than two minutes to play.

It was a wild and crazy game which would have filled the penalty box if they were wearing skates.

It featured 34 penalties for 296 yards, two Eskimos tossed prior to half time, two coaches who didn't shake hands and Edmonton players complaining about the way the Stampeders were celebrating their win.

"If they don't want to see them celebrate, don't let them win the game," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

He said his not shaking hands with Tom Higgins "is no big deal. We're good.

"He was looking for me when I was looking for a place to put my head set so it didn't accumulate more rain."

It would have fit the scene better if Maciocia had tossed his head set 37 yards like Gass did the helmet of Stampeders offensive lineman John Comiskey late in the second quarter.

Only minutes earlier, Gass took his own helmet off and drew a 15-yard 'Ed Hervey' penalty.

For a coach who called his team brain-dead last weekend in Regina, there was plenty of room to hold his middle linebacker accountable for his actions in the post-game press conference, but he chose to question having two players sent off instead.

Kenny Onatolu, another linebacker, was also tossed from the near-brawl in front of the Stampeders bench.

"We had two guys thrown out and 20 yards of penalties against us. It's hard to believe we deserved all of that," said Maciocia.

Lack of discipline throughout the line-up was in evidence from start to finish.

Combined with 20 more to Gass on a preceeding play, Shannon Garrett taking a penalty to take Calgary out of a second-and-22 situation to put them first-and-10 from the 14, and a pain of offside penalties to follow that, the Eskimos basically donated seven points to the Stampeders just before the half. And then had to play the second half with a makeshift defensive line-up.

But Gass, although he deserves to be, won't be the hot topic on the open line shows this week.

It was the Eskimos going with LeFors instead of Ray with the Eskimos set-up to score a touchdown from 21/2 yards out. That's going to light up the lines on talk radio.

"Our No. 1 QB hasn't run one quarterback sneak this year," said Maciocia. "If LeFors scores, you don't ask the question."

Nobody questions using a back-up for short yardage in the middle of the game. It lessens the risk of Ray getting hurt. But with the game on the line? Don't you want you're best player with his hands on the football?

Ray said it is what it is.

"It's the way we do it now. Stefan runs the short-yardage play. It doesn't matter to me."

That said ...

"From 21/2 yards, you should be able to put it over."

Maciocia said the same thing.

"You've got to score the major. It's second and one and you get stopped," said Maciocia of having to kick a nine-yard field goal and leaving the Stampeders a minute and a half to get to the other end of the field to get one back.

The Eskimos are back in last place again. And they deserve to be from a dozen different directions.


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