Instead of sharing premium space in the CFL East standings with the Argos, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are looking back at a fast-approaching pack. Plagued by a questionable non-call and their inability to make a last-minute defensive stand yesterday here at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Ticats blew a chance to move into a tie with the Argos for second place.
Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Paul McCallum's 36-yard field goal with one second left -- his sixth of the game -- gave his team a 32-30 win over in front of 27,893 fans.
"We've got a few days off to decide what we are going to be," Ticats coach Greg Marshall said after his team lost its second game in a row to fall to 5-7-1 heading into a bye week.
"Are we going to be a playoff team or just a middle-of-the road team?"
The Ticats remain two points behind the Argos, who have a game in hand, but are just one point up on the Ottawa Renegades and the Roughriders (5-8), who are fourth in the West after snapping a three-game losing streak. Because of the cross-over, the Roughriders can qualify for the post-season if they fashion a better record than the third-place team in the East.
On a day when 27 penalties were called, a key non-call stood out. On the Roughies' final drive, receiver Elijah Thurmon appeared to pull down Ticats defensive back Dedric Mathis, who had a chance for an interception. But the officials kept their flags in their pockets.
"I was upset and I'm going to be upset," Marshall said. "It was a big play in the game and Dedric had an interception from where I saw it. But you can't depend on pass interference calls to win you football games."
The Roughriders' nine-play winning drive, which started at their own 38 with 2:15 left, came right after the Ticats took a 30-29 lead on a highlight-reel 38-yard touchdown pass from Danny McManus to D.J. Flick. On a third-down gamble, McManus' pass bounced off the shoulder of Roughriders defensive back Omarr Morgan to Flick, who tipped it and then made a diving one-handed snag.
The Ticats took 15 penalties for 113 yards and made stupid plays -- such as an ill-advised fake punt by Jason Currie, whose incompletion led to a Saskatchewan field goal.
"Penalties definitely killed us," Flick said. "They put points on their board and took points off ours. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times."