Spread the blame

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Throw the blame at Henry Burris for the Stampeders' 33-18 loss to the Ottawa Renegades last night.

He deserves plenty of it but there was enough to spread around to almost everyone in Red and White.

One look at the long faces in the Calgary locker-room afterwards proved the men entrusted with rebuilding the franchise know they have plenty of work remaining.

The QB -- signed as a high-profile free agent in the off-season -- deserves and accepts finger-pointing after failing to ignite the Stampeders offence once again.

While misfiring with plenty of passes that either whistled over top of or behind open receivers, Burris also tossed a third-quarter interception -- dangerously underthrown -- that snuffed the team's comeback bid while trailing by 12 points.

Behind 30-18 late in the third quarter, Burris looked to Ken-Yon Rambo in the endzone only to have defender Korey Banks grab the jump ball. Head coach Tom Higgins said the horrible performance proves the team -- 1-2 and ahead of only winless Winnipeg (0-4) in the CFL West -- isn't nearly as good as it thinks it is.

"The score was flattering for the Calgary Stampeders," said a brutally honest Higgins. "We got whipped in almost every phase of this football game. There was one pretty good football team on this field, there wasn't two. For whatever reason we're going to have to regroup. We're not as good as we think we are. They were able to run the ball on us, they scored points almost at will. We weren't able to sustain drives and it was a tough evening for us."

Stampeders receiver Jeremaine Copeland caught seven passes for 64 yards and one touchdown while rookie Brett Ralph caught six balls for 100 yards.

In fact, the receiving corps which had been criticized for dropped passes in Game 1 and 2 was quite reliable when Burris gave them a chance to make plays.

The usually sturdy Stamps defence also suffered its share of blunders, with Renegades pivot Kerry Joseph enjoying a great night, completing 23-of-32 passes for 318 yards and two TDs.

Stumpy Ottawa running back Josh Ranek trampled the Stamps D for 164 yards rushing on 20 carries while posting an 17.1-yard average in dominating the first half.

It wasn't unexpected, said defensive lineman Sheldon Napastuk.

"Ranek's the kind of back who comes hard every time," Napastuk said. "They did a lot of good things to keep us off balance."

Higgins said Ranek's performance revealed a deficiency in Calgary's usually dependable defence.

"When you have somebody who rushes for almost 200 yards you're thinking, 'OK, we're not as good as we need to be there,' " he said. "There was a letdown in our front-seven, our tackling was not anywhere near where it needs to be ... this is a step backwards for us."

Not often is the personable Burris lost for words but he had almost as much trouble explaining the performance as he had finding open receivers.

"It's unexplainable right now. Until I sit down and look at the film I won't be able to criticize myself more about the things I should have done and didn't get done," said Burris. "There are plays I just have to make."

The miserable night started when Burris fumbled on the team's second possession as Ottawa opened a 7-0 lead.

With Calgary scrimmaging at its own 25, nobody picked up blitzing Ottawa linebacker Robert Grant, who knocked the ball free from Burris while Kyries Hebert scooped up the loose pigskin and jogged into the endzone.

Yo Murphy was wide open on the first play of the second quarter, grabbing a perfect 50-yard strike from Joseph for a 17-0 lead. Murphy also out-ran linebacker George White to get beneath a 10-yard Joseph TD pass late in the opening half for a 27-4 advantage.

Burris completed 21 of 36 passes for 261 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

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OTTAWA RENEGADES: 33

CALGARY STAMPEDERS: 18


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