One out of 3 is bad

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

TORONTO -- Danny Maciocia was right - much to his chagrin.

The Edmonton Eskimos head coach had a distinct feeling that special teams could decide yesterday's game.

Unfortunately for Maciocia, it was his special teams unit that was dreadful - costing the Eskimos any hope of climbing into a playoff spot.

Giving up two touchdowns on complete breakdowns - both through punting plays, Edmonton lost 33-8 to the Toronto Argos in front of 28,354 spectators at Rogers Centre.

"It is a shame," said Maciocia on his not-so-special teams.

"It was 16-8 and you felt the momentum shift there (with an Edmonton touchdown pass). We get one blocked and they take it in for a touchdown."

That ended the game - right there.

Completely untouched, Jordan Younger sprinted from the line of scrimmage to easily block a Sean Fleming punt, allowing Byron Parker to pick up the pigskin and romp 23 yards to the end zone.

With 12:53 left in the fourth quarter, it was 23-8 and the Eskimos team bus to Pearson International Airport could have started.

"The bottom line is special teams is a third of the game and you just can't go and get your ass kicked like that and expect to win a game," said veteran Edmonton special teams player Will Loftus.

"You are putting your whole team in a bind. You can't win a football game when you give up a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked kick for a touchdown.

"It is impossible - no matter how well the offence and defence play."

With quarterback Stefan LeFors starting his first CFL regular-season game, the Esks offence couldn't get out of its own way in the first quarter.

In one of the ugliest displays of offence by any team in the CFL this year, Edmonton had -13 yards of total offence after three drives.

To LeFors' credit, he eventually settled down to throw some nice balls - but got very little help from his receivers at times.

But the CFL rookie was constantly playing from behind.

A 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Dominique Dorsey put Toronto ahead 9-0 in the first half.

"I could cry over spilled milk - there were like three clips on that play," said Edmonton special teams coach Scott Squires on Dorsey romping to the end zone without a hand touching him.

"But I won't go that route. I will just say we didn't do a good enough job on our contain. And we got beat outside."

While the special teams unit was embarrassing, and the offence only generated 189 yards in the entire game, the defence produced a massive effort.

Until Tony Miles scored on a 42-yard pass-and-run play with 1:10 left, the defence had only allowed one touchdown.

"The defence was outstanding," said Maciocia. "They were just out there way too long.

"I thought A.J. (Gass) played really well. (Ron) Warner played exceptional."

After allowing running back Robert Edwards to romp for 112 yards on the ground last week, he was held to just 54 yards on 14 carries yesterday.

But it didn't really matter.

The loss drops Edmonton's last-place West Division record to 5-8-1, three points from the final playoff berth in the division.

But the Esks are still just two points from sole possession of the final playoff spot in the East because Montreal has just 12 points. The Als play tomorrow against Hamilton.


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