Lions succumb to more self-inflicted wounds

Nail, meet coffin.

There will be words from the remaining believers in the locker room about the playoff prospects of the B.C. Lions in the four regular season games that lie ahead. There will be suggestions all is not lost until their mathematical chances are exhausted.

But if an embarrassing loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their previous game at B.C. Place Stadium didn’t prove to those who still follow this CFL club the sheer enormity of the spadework which lies ahead for the 6-8 Lions, blowing a 19-point lead and dropping a 30-25 decision to the Ottawa Redblacks will surely do the deed.

B.C.’s loss, coupled with a 27-24 win by the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Toronto Argonauts earlier Saturday, left the Lions effectively needing at least five points of the eight still available to them in order to overcome one tie-breaker deficit.

It’ll be the same situation facing the Lions if the Edmonton Eskimos dispose of the Montreal Alouettes Monday. A 20-year run of post-season appearances by the Lions is about to come to an end. There’s no sense hiding the obvious any longer.

What remains is a series of decisions which surely must happen in order for faith in the Lions to be restored. It starts at the very top of the organization. With every passing week, the value of the franchise owned by David Braley continues to drop. With every humiliating setback on the field, the calls for coach/GM Wally Buono to step aside become louder; the realization on the part of assistant coaches, personnel staffers and players that massive organizational change is forthcoming becomes more clear.

The regrettable truth is that after two Grey Cup wins in 15 seasons under the winningest coach in league history, the Lions are same place as they were when Buono arrived after the 2002 season, the building where they play home games seemingly empty on a regular basis just as it was when Adam Rita was in charge and Damon Allen’s run had come to an end.

But the late, great Bob Ackles isn’t around to rescue Braley this time. Sadly, a golden era is coming to the end of its life cycle. The only question is whether the absentee owner knows it’s time, because the look on the face of the coach/GM after the game made it seem as if he knows what must be done.

Other points seen and noted:

Go figure: The signature play of this implosion wasn’t either of the Ottawa touchdowns in which Anthony Gaitor and T.J. Lee were were responsible for allowing big gains during a six-minute stretch in the second half. It wasn’t the lost Lions challenge a play prior to one of the majors, or a lost fumble by Bryan Burnham with the Lions up 25-6 in the third quarter.

No, it was the brain-dead decision by Chris Rainey to field a punt at his own three-yard line instead of gaining field position by surrendering a single that started the Lions to their inexorable march to oblivion.

Rainey knew he blew it even before Buono chewed him out on the sideline, but it was too late.

“He told me (to let the ball go into the end zone),” said Rainey. “I just got to get it out of my head.” Rainey’s understanding is one reason, according to some around the club, why he doesn’t get more involvement in the offence and making a mistake on special teams that cost the Lions valuable field position this time served to illustrate the point.

Mistakes aplenty: Another fatal characteristic of this year’s Lions is an inability to get a stop on defence when it was needed the most. B.C. was still in control despite the Burnham fumble, and a clear drop in the end zone of a sure touchdown by Chris Williams. Despite being victimized again on yet another onside kick, the Lions still led 25-19 with a quarter to go.

Again, however, with a chance to back up suggestions made before the game that he would get the ball when it counts, Jeremiah Johnson was made to look invisible. Johnson didn’t have a single carry in the fourth quarter and was targeted on only one pass attempt in the final 15 minutes.

Buono said in the days leading up to the game that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results, and changed the team’s practice regimen. Ignoring their best offensive weapon with a lead down the stretch looked awfully familiar.

“That was a heartbreaking loss,” said Solomon Elimimian, whose 13 tackles to give him the league tackle lead was the lone bright spot for B.C., save for the four-catch, 93-yard receiving effort of Shaquille Johnson.

“We gave up plays we should have. That game was there for the taking and when it came to critical times we didn’t execute. We have to shore things up and not give up big plays and that’s been our Achilles heel. We talk about it but we gave up a bunch of big plays again.

“All we got is us. That’s the motto. It’s gonna hurt and it’s supposed to hurt but we’re going to use it (to help) in the next game.”

As epitaph options go, there’s plenty that could go on the tombstone once the coffin that is this sad Lions season is eventually buried.



Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (173 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

13 Comments on Lions succumb to more self-inflicted wounds

  1. Rainey may have cost them the game but the secondary was brutal. They don’t uirlize their recovers underneath and most plays are stretch plays I have great respect for Buono but the game has passed him by. The league needs a healthy BC franchise and a winning team. Go Argos Go!

    • That’s utilize and receivers….damn spell check.

    • Why ae people like sheep, once they read something, they keep on with the same thing. How was it Wally’s fault (after Rainey admitted being told by Wally but he ignored) that Rainey did not let the ball go over his head? We already had at least two 80 yard drives, that would have been another good time for the O and OC, not Wally, to put one together.

      How was it Wally’s fault that Williams let a VERY catchable pass go thru his hands in the ENDZONE?
      That was AT LEAST another 3 points, w/o the convert. Get that and even with the rest, we could have won or at least tied that thing in the last few seconds.

      How is it (and please, I never mentioned this in a previous post since we lost but now there is even an article on it) Wally’s fault that the officials are so incompetent that when we had a drive stopped the officials made a bad call on the “fumble” and kept the drive alive. To top that one off, we could not challenge because of the new commish’s attempt to pretend he was already making ‘improvements’ mid season, stripped away challenge so we could not even do that, and it would have CLEARLY showed our D got the stop because the pass was incomplete. How is any of that Wally’s fault. You guys need to understand the game and not just looks for scapegoats, or worse read some half-baked reporter and takeoff on it like a wildfire.

      • Terry Wilson // October 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm //

        the buck stops with Wally. he is the head coach and GM.

        • Yeah I think the fire the coach thread has been running of the Lionbashers site for about 10 years now and it gets a little tedious. Fact is perhaps this isn’t the ultra talented team the media proclaimed it to be at the start of the season, now rather than admit it a mistake, it’s blame the coach time.

          At least there will be no problem replacing Wally because 5.of the 6 posters on the Lionbashers site are qualified! At least they think so lol!

      • Funny thing is you commented on how the Eskimos play took after their coaches personality, now look at the Lions, noticing anything. Choke. As for bad officiating, both on and off the field, we’ve all been there this year. As a matter of fact that’s exactly why Maas freaked out. Just hope that you didn’t ruin your headphones at home BC.(smirk)

  2. Billinburlington // October 8, 2017 at 9:09 am //

    All you had to do was change the player names and the article could have been about my Ticats’ first 8 games this season. I thought BC was playing well until they collapsed.

    Perry is dead on-the CFL needs a strong team in B C. I hope an ownership change happens this off season for BC – that will be a start. Hate to see Wally leave the coaching position – I’m sure there would be a role for him elsewhere in the organization.

  3. Loss to Hamilton was not embarrassing. It was a good game to watch and well played by both teams. Hamilton is much better than it was at the beginning of the year

  4. The scary thing about BC is change is needed in different areas, I think that it is clear that it is time Wally hung the coaching whistle up. Maybe more concerning is new ownership is needed as well, Bradley may be absentee but he still writes the checks. Previous to Bradley the Lions ownership was a mess forever it seemed. Someone recently quoted Bill Commie as saying how scary it was to write million dollar checks to no end. The Vancouver market can be very fickle as we are about to find out I think. A healthy BC team is vital to the CFL. But so is every team.

  5. Wally through the years has made ‘bold’ moves releasing and trading outstanding players , today Wally needs to make the bold move and retire .

  6. I saw a lot of dropped passes that would have made the difference in my opinion. Jennings would have thrown for well over 400 yards and had one perfect pass dropped in the end zone. Blown coverage didn’t help the cause either

  7. Its time to replace Williams with Nick Moore in the receiving core. Moore is way more reliable

  8. Yep…like Moore better. More reliable and better attitude. As a TC fan though I must say I enjoy watching that weasel Williams flop. Maybe he’ll try to invent another “loophole” and spring himself out of the Lions organization…LOL!

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