Can Esks bounce back?
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback Ricky Ray is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Joe Lobendahn, Kenny Mainor and Odell Willis during the second half of their CFL game in Winnipeg August 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)
WINNIPEG - And the moral of the story is ...
Well, whatever you read into last Friday’s loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Edmonton Eskimos want to make sure they get a chance to rewrite that final chapter in future games.
With the Montreal Alouettes up next, the Eskimos want to make sure they learn from their mistakes as they turn the page on their first loss of 2011.
“We’ve just got to be a little more patient because we were just down two scores,” said Ricky Ray, whose side trailed by just 11 points with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. “If we put one drive together, it’s only a one-possession game. So for our learning experience, it’s just stick to what we do out there, try and execute a little bit better and not panic as much.”
Turnovers told a big part of Friday’s tale, where the Eskimos went in with a league-low five giveaways, only to match their entire season total in a single outing with a turnover-on-downs, a fumble and three interceptions.
Then again, it was just one, single outing.
“This is one game,” Ray said. “But also, we’ve got to look at the film and correct some of these mistakes. Some of them are starting to creep in, we’re turning the football over a little bit more than we want to, offensively.
“So we’ve got to clean that up, but you can’t get too down. It’s a long season, it’s just one game and we’ve just got to move forward.”
It starts with putting the loss behind them.
“Was everyone expecting us to go 18-0?” league-leading receiver Fred Stamps asked in the locker—room following last week’s game, before ending up at the hospital later that night when discomfort in his abdomen escalated into emergency surgery to repair internal bleeding. “It’s the CFL, a professional league. You win some, you lose some.
“What we’ve got to do is regroup, come back. Credit to Winnipeg, they played great defence, great offence. We’ve just got to come back and play football.”
Ending their five-game winning streak to start the season might not have been the worst thing to happen, said the slotback prior to finding out he would miss the next four to six weeks while on the mend.
“I’m kind of glad we got it out of our system early,” Stamps said. “See how it feels, let everybody soak it in and put a bitter taste in our mouth. We can’t do this any more, we can’t keep losing.
“All we’ve got to do is get focused for Montreal. They’re really like the powerhouse of the CFL, with a powerful offence and great quarterback.”
With Stamps back in Edmonton, the Eskimos wrapped up their last practice in Winnipeg before continuing on to Montreal Wednesday morning. Losing their first game and their leading receiver to kick off the longest road trip of the season is as much adversity as the team has faced after starting the season 5-0.
“I am very impressed with the way the players have handled it,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “I think, for them, this is that fraternity-type time.”
They will need to get on the same page in time for Thurday’s game.
“That’s the thing good teams seem to do, after a loss, they usually bounce back,” said Ray.”It was nice to get off to a good start and string games together, but now we’re faced with what we’re going to do with a bounce-back game.”