Joseph vows to lead 'Gades' rebound

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

Kerry Joseph used a hitting analogy, but it's his pitching that's the problem.

Specifically the way he's serving up the big fat juicy ones to opponents who in turn are feasting on the Renegades.

The three interceptions Joseph threw in Thursday's 61-27 undressing by the B.C. Lions brings his total to eight in the last three games -- all Ottawa losses -- and a CFL-leading 16 on the season.

With seven games remaining, he is easily on pace to surpass the league high 20 interceptions he tossed in his first year (2003) and is already well ahead of his total (10) from last season, when injuries allowed him to play just 12 starts.

"I take accountability for everything," Joseph said of the Renegades sudden fall to 5-6. "I look at the last three games, and the turnovers I've had. I don't give us a chance to win. I put that on my shoulders. It comes with the job. I've just got to keep working.

"I've had a chance to lay around and think about it. It's almost like a batter being in a slump. I'll do what I have to do to get out of it. I'll keep fighting, keep swinging and just keep throwing the football.

"You can't turn the ball over," he added. "You look at the first half of the season, we weren't turning the ball over and we were winning. The ball's in my hands. I'll take blame for that. I know it's not a one-man show out there, but I touch the ball every time. I've got to protect the ball better, get back to doing the things I know I can do. Then we'll be okay."

Joseph, who completed just 10-of-22 passes for 175 yards before being replaced (for the first time this season) by Darnell Kennedy at the start of the fourth quarter, has missed the strike zone far too often in the past three games. While the passes he has bounced to receivers or sailed over their heads have merely killed drives, he has missed at least three teammates in the end zone the last three games -- including a ball he fired over a wide open Markus Howell with Ottawa down 7-0 early Thursday.

A touchdown there might have put a different flavour on the night.

"I just try to take my reads," said Joseph. "Sometimes I miss them. Sometimes I miss throws. I've just got to be better. I'm going to come back to work, get back to the basics. Make sure my techniques are fundamentally sound. Do the things I know Kerry Joseph can do to help this team."

Joseph was only one of the culprits against B.C., of course.

The defence, which gave up no touchdowns in a first half that saw the Renegades trail 23-6, broke down twice in the first two minutes of the third quarter -- leading to 42 and 61-yard touchdown passes by Dave Dickenson and a mass exodus by the fans. And as was the case when the teams met in Week 2, the Lions special teams killed the Renegades, blocking one punt for a touchdown and returning one for another.

Veteran linebacker/special teams captain Jason Kralt referred to the game as a "debacle," saying it was the worst loss he has suffered in his seven-year pro career.

"At times, it felt like Carleton again," said Kralt, who experienced some pretty devastating defeats while a member of the Ravens. "It was embarrassing.

'KEEP FIGHTING'

"Guys have got to keep fighting. If somebody pops you in the nose, pop him back. We can go two ways now: Either pack up the tent and go home or stand up and be accountable. We'll see who comes to work (next week) and is ready to play Friday."

Joseph is anxious for a chance at redemption.

"We've just dropped three, we're 5-6 right now and we've got seven games left," he said. "We've just got to put ourselves back in the thick of things. Get a win this week and we're back at .500. We're just in a mid-season slide right now. We've just got to come together and keep digging our way out of it. We know we're better than what we've showed the last few weeks.

"We believe in the system. We believe in each other. We just didn't show up to play football. Against a good football team like that, you get your behind whipped like that."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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