Ticats need to keep up consistency

Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn hands off the ball to running back Avon Cobourne against the...

Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn hands off the ball to running back Avon Cobourne against the Lions at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., Oct. 22, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 PM ET

HAMILTON - If the message hasnt finally hit home, then its only a matter of time before players and coaches are told to hit the road.

If the point hasnt been hammered home, then the time will soon arrive to dub the Hammer as a run-of-the-mill football town.

At no point during this roller coaster of a season have the Ticats found themselves in a position to make a run into the post-season.

Having dismantled, with remarkable ease and precision it must be said, the red-hot B.C. Lions, the Ticats now have a realistic shot of ending the season on a three-game win streak and 10 wins as a playoff road date awaits.

For a team that has posted back-to-back 9-9 seasons and back-to-back home playoff losses in the East semifinal, the potential gains that are within reach cannot be overstated.

Under no circumstance should the Ticats lose to either Saskatchewan and Toronto, two teams who enter this week with a combined eight wins; two team that have gone a combined 0-3 against Hamilton this year.

But nothing is a given when no evidence has presented to suggest the Ticats will finally clear that symbolic threshold where good teams evolve into something approaching greatness.

Everyone associated with the Ticats clearly understands how truly perplexing this season has evolved: One week looking like the CFLs elite, the next playing like a disinterested team incapable of executing anything on either side of the ball.

Whether its paying attention to the games finer details, practice habits, a mind set or a commitment, head coach Marcel Bellefeuille made certain players understood whats at stake when he met with his team prior to Tuesdays workout, the first since Saturday nights wrecking ball of a win over B.C.

We started talking about it (Tuesday) morning, Bellefeuille acknowledged. Ill keep my thumb pressed on it and our veteran leaders have to step up as well.

We have to make sure the focus is on us playing and its a matter for us (coaches) being diligent and the players to be diligent.

If Hamilton can somehow harness the energy it played with in beating the Lions 42-10 and carry it into Regina and then into Toronto, a much-needed roll heading into the playoffs would be established.

If Hamilton reverts to its season-long pattern of failing to seize an opportunity, then another .500 record and early playoff exit is bound to unfold.

Whats befuddling about these Ticats is the manner in which they can go from looking so good to looking so bad, playing with a sense of urgency one week and almost forgetting what level of intensity and focus is required to be a consistent winner.

And every time a breakthrough is apparently accomplished, its followed by a dispiriting loss that was more one-sided than the outcome indicated.

When they took to the field Saturday night for the final time this season in front of their home fans, the Ticats knew, courtesy of a Winnipeg comeback win over Montreal, that home field in the playoffs was no longer a possibility.

Its hard to come up with a word to describe it or put a finger on it, quarterback Quinton Porter said of the teams frame of mind before the B.C. kickoff. Guys were having fun and sort of playing loose.

Thats when were playing our best and we need that mentality going forward. This is a big test for us to maintain that attitude after a win. Thats going to be the challenge.

An 0-2 start to the season was followed by three straight wins. When Hamilton found itself at 4-6, it reeled off two emphatic wins only to come up short when playing divisional rivals Winnipeg and Montreal.

One step forward, two steps back: It has been a constant theme in Tiger Town, a patter that must end and should end as the end of the season approaches.

Its tough to say what it is and its tough to say why it happens, Porter said of his unpredictable team. All I can say is that were aware of it and we know that its there. Our challenge is trying to overcome it, to not get complacent after a win and not get down after a loss.


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