Esks can't solve 'Dead Zone'

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray talks to the media after modeling the team's 1970s retro...

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray talks to the media after modeling the team's 1970s retro jersey for the Aug. 6 game against the Toronto Argonauts. (Doreen Thunder, Edmonton Sun)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

The game film hadn’t revealed anything the Edmonton Eskimos didn’t already know.

A day after losing 33-23 at home to the Montreal Alouettes, the Eskimos weren’t questioning the manner of the loss because they already had all the answers.

“You can’t win football games when you’re 0-for-5 in the red zone,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “Points are positive, but at some point you have to come away with your share of touchdowns.

“We had one touchdown that came on a big play. And while it’s nice to have big plays, you have to be able to finish off your drives.”

The Eskimos racked up 443 yards of total offence on the Alouettes, but only to find the end zone on a 43-yard touchdown reception by Fred Stamps from Ricky Ray.

They got within the Alouettes’ five-yard line on three other occasions, but had to settle for short field goals after being unable to get the ball in the end zone.

“We had opportunities to really put the game away and we didn’t do it,” said Ray. “This is really the first game we’ve had an issue with getting down there (red zone) and kicking a lot of field goals. We have to capitalize on those opportunities.”

The Eskimos know they let one get away.

Moving the ball almost at will in the first half, had the Eskimos been able to punch the ball in for touchdowns while deep in enemy territory, they could have run away with the contest.

Instead, they allowed the Alouettes to stick within striking distance and eventually saw them battle back from a 12-point deficit.

“They knew after the game, whether we let it slip away or we gave it away, the bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays,” said Hall. “Those are all things that attribute us coming away on the short end of the stick.”

Penalty-prone

While the red-zone deficiencies were clear, Hall did have to remind his team of the number of penalties they took.

“The thing I did address with the team was our lack of discipline,” Hall said. “We had 18 penalties for 204 yards. You’re taking yards from yourself and donating yards to them. It’s hard to win football games when you’re giving away over 200 yards in penalties.

“It’s a matter of not paying attention to detail and taking care of the little things. It’s the small things that hurt you in the long run. If we want to get to where we want to be, we have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot. We had every opportunity to win the game, but we messed it up.”

Even with having to settle with all those short field goals, the Eskimos still had opportunities to extend their lead as both Kelly Campbell and Fred Stamps dropped touchdown passes.

Ray found Campbell in the corner of the end zone but saw his pass go right through the receiver’s hands.

Later, Stamps was the benefactor of a blown assignment and was in all by himself behind the Alouettes defence. However, Stamps took his eye off the ball and had it bounce off his shoulder pad.

“I just didn’t get the job done,” said Campbell. “It’s frustrating because it overrides all the good in that game. Those were points we didn’t put on the board.

“You can have good stats all day, but if you’re not putting points on the board and winning ball games, then none of that matters.”

The Eskimos are hoping to remedy the problem when they travel to Saskatchewan to take on the Roughriders Saturday afternoon. Despite the loss, there were a lot of good things accomplished against the Alouettes.

“I thought in the first game against B.C., we didn’t come out with that intensity and that hard-playing attitude,” Ray said.

“On Sunday, we came out and played with that attitude and got a lot of good results from it. We just needed to find a way to get the ball into the end zone.”


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