EDMONTON - It would have been the win that could have salvaged a season.
Instead, it was a fourth consecutive loss for the Eskimos last night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Some might try to find a morale victory in the 19-18 loss to the B.C. Lions a week after the 51-8 embarrassment in Hamilton — but not head coach Kavis Reed.
“There are no morale victories in football,” he said.
If the Eskimos lose the next one, the fact that they lost two games this month on missed last-play field goals in the Labour Day doubleheader will be forgotten.
The fact that they once again lost by one point won’t be remembered, either.
A big gulp of negative EE history is now on the line.
If the Eskimos lose Friday in Calgary, what will be remembered is that for the first time in the team’s history, dating back to 1949, the Green and Gold will have gone zero-for-September.
You have to go back to 1971, when the Esks went 1-5 in the month, winning their last game of the month by a point, to find a a similar situation.
For half a game Saturday night, it looked like Steven Jyles had turned into Ricky Ray.
But in the end he turned back into Steven Jyles.
He threw a last-minute third-down pass to nowhere, with nobody close enough to even declare an intended receiver.
Jyles was 12-for-14 for 159 yards in the first half and put up his first touchdown pass since early August.
But until he connected with Cory Koch, who fumbled the pass but made a brilliant recovery with his knees for a 47-yard gain to set up the Eskimos only scoring play of the second half, a 40-yard Grant Shaw field goal, he couldn’t do spit.
Jyles, to that point, had amassed only 16 yards of second-half passing.
He went 5-for-13 in the half.
He threw an interception.
He led the Eskimos to a mere five first downs.
And then, with a chance to seize a comeback win in the final minute, he threw away the game.
“It wasn’t missed communication,” said Reed, indicating it was Jyles going to the wrong place after he saw Hugh Charles covered with the first read call.
The success in the first half, Reed said, was a result of game plan stuff from Marcus Crandell and new “advisor” David Kelly.
“We came out with a lot of misdirection,” said the coach.
“We got stagnant in the second half because we no longer had the misdirection. We didn’t do it in the second half.”
Under cross examination, Reed admitted they couldn’t do it.
“It was adjustments made by them. They did a good job adjusting.”
If the game didn’t change at half time, it did when Marcus Howard went out to see if he could play in the third quarter and discovered he couldn’t.
The Eskimos defence, which proved yet again it could deliver victories on the rare occasion the offence can score 20 points, has been hampered greatly during the four-game losing streak by a decimated defensive line.
“Hamstring again,” Reed said of the pass rusher who seems to be the key to the front four.
Howard returned to the lineup for this one for the first time since missing seven games with a pulled hamstring.
“He’s probably going to be out for a while again,” said Reed, who said the Eskimos are so banged up at the position they will probably have a pair of NFL cuts on a plane by morning.
“It happened in the second quarter. He went out for one play in the third.
“When he went out, that didn’t allow us to continue the rotation of defensive linemen. That probably had more to do with Andrew Harris’ big run (49 yards) than anything. We had a fatigued defensive line.”
The Harris run led to Geroy Simon’s first touchdown of the season and 100th of his career, which was the difference in the game prior to Paul McCallum’s go-ahead field goal.
“To lose another game by one point is extraordinarily frustrating,” said Reed.
But that was one on the scoreboard.
When the total offence is 411 to 273 and the time of possession is 33:15 to 26:46, you lost the football game.
The next question is if they’ll lose another — and go 0-for-September?