Even special teams, normally under the inspiration of Chris Williams, looked blase on a day Hamilton needed them to shine. Williams had five yards on one punt return. Mostly, Toronto’s defence made him a non-factor.
If the Ticats had any hope of winning their rematch after last week’s Labour Day loss they needed Burris to be Mr. Reliable. They needed Williams to run wild. They needed 60 minutes of solid support from a much-maligned defence. They got none of this.
The closest they got were 30 minutes from the defence, highlighted by halfback Dee Webb dancing all over the Argonauts logo after he intercepted a Ricky Ray pass at the goal line.
Other than that it was the Argos doing the dancing. And, today, that leaves Hamilton looking at a five-game losing streak, three wins behind the Argonauts, and a team with ideas about going to a Grey Cup suddenly sees hope of making even the playoffs fading.
The final score? 45-31. And, that’s being flattering. “I’m disappointed,” said head coach George Cortez. And, when the head coach is disappointed it is never a good thing for the underlings.
Changes are afoot. And, one of them could be a change at quarterback. Cortez did not discount the notion.
“We will consider pretty much everything this week,” Cortez said when asked if a quarterback change is possible for Hamilton’s game next week against Edmonton.
A turning point came midway through the second quarter after Hamilton’s defence had limited Toronto to field goals and a 13-9 lead. Patrick Watkins stepped in front of Bakari Grant and coasted unmolested to paydirt. Burris completed just three of 11 pass in the half.
“A lot of throwing the ball is rhythm,” said Cortez. “When you don’t make plays you should make when you’re throwing ... three of 11, and then sometimes you are in a pressing mode.”
It didn’t get a lot better. Hamilton finished with 272 yards passing but much of that came in the final minutes after Toronto built a 42-17 lead.
“Embarrassing,” said Burris.
This was a game every Ticat said was in the “Must” category after losing on Labour Day. Instead, the defence surrendered 500 net yards. In continuation of a season-long trend, they couldn’t stop the ground game, surrendering 172 yards to Chad Kackert. Ricky Ray spread the ball to seven receivers. True, there was that Webb interception at the goal line but never was there a feeling the Ticats were gaining a foothold — on the game, on their season, which is slowly slipping down the tubes.
“To come off the last game and perform this way is not acceptable. Especially on offence,” said Burris. “I had the interception for a touchdown. A lot of guys made mistakes at different times. We had opportunities to win but when everybody pitches in to make sure we don’t, this is what happens.”
The indiscretions were many and varied: Bakari Grant got behind the secondary but couldn’t bring in a pass. Sam Giguere was open in the end zone only to see Burris fail to get the pass to him before it could be knocked away. A fumble by Williams killed a drive and resulted in a Toronto field goal.
“Not a very good game by us,” said Cortez. ”Too many drops. Opened the game with a sack. We certainly didn’t play well enough to win. Up until today the last four (losses), a play here or there we were close enough to win. Today we didn’t deserve to win and we will be addressing it.”
Craig Ray slipped on pass defence, and crawling, had to pull Mo Mann down by the ankles. When things went right; it still turned out wrong, like when Matt Bucknor stood celebrating in the end zone after intercepting a Ray pass while upfield Brandon Boudreaux was flagged. Toronto got the ball back. It was that kind of day.
Jermaine McElveen played well and had two sacks but when it was done he sat in the dressing room with his head held between his hands.
Dejection, frustration, discarded tape, clothes, and perhaps a lost season scattered all around him.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.