The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were their own worst enemy in a 43-28 loss to the Calgary Stampeders Saturday.
The team struggled against the Calgary defence, which is the best in the CFL on virtually every measure. That was a key factor.
But mistakes also played a role.
Some were more costly than others, including an interception to led to a field goal, a fumble returned for a touchdown and the handful of points the Ticats left on the field. And, had the Stamps not been so error-prone themselves, the score would likely have been more lopsided.
Some of the screw-ups balanced each other out, head coach June Jones said after the game, “and then they made more big plays on offence than we made, and that’s what it really came down to.”
The offence, which contributed just nine points for Hamilton on three field goals, didn’t ever get going. Jeremiah Masoli was under constant pressure from the Calgary line and threw for only 210 yards — his second-lowest tally of the season — as a consequence.
On the ground, the Tiger-Cats didn’t fare much better, running the ball for 71 yards on 15 carries.
It didn’t help that Brandon Banks — the newest member of Hamilton’s injury-riddled receiving corps — was scratched at the last minute. He has practised at half speed since pulling his groin last Saturday in Toronto.
“Our goal is to win the division championship and get a buy that first week,” Jones said when asked about the decision to rest him against the Stamps. “That’s still in the sights to be able to do that and it’s a long season. Had he gone and torn something, then he’s out for the year.”
Hamilton has already lost three starting receivers to season-ending injuries — Chris Williams, Jalen Saunders and Shamawd Chambers.
The defence, which was responsible for two touchdowns — Delvin Breaux had one off a fumble recovery and Larry Dean the other off an interception — gave the Tiger-Cats a chance, holding Bo Levi Mitchell to 270 passing yards. And more than half of those came on two plays — a 99-yard pass and run that ended with a Reginald Begelton major and a 48-yard throw to Juwan Brescacin that led to a field goal.
The unit had a tougher time keeping up with the Stamps attack, however, as the game went on.
“I thought that the defence played very well early,” said Jones. “We’ve got to put it in the end zone offensively a couple of times and maybe put the pressure back on them, but we were unable to do that.”
Lirim Hajrullahu made a trio of field goal attempts — from 37, 13 and 28 yards — and Shakeir Ryan ran back a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to round out the scoring for the Tiger-Cats in his CFL debut. He also was on the hook for one of four Hamilton turnovers, a fumble at his own 20-yard line that Tunde Adeleke recovered for a TD.
The loss was the first in four games for the Tiger-Cats and their 14th straight against the Stamps. They haven’t beaten Calgary since September 2011.
Note: In the absence of Pigskin Pete, Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young led the crowd in a pre-game Oskee Wee Wee cheer, complete with the mascot’s trademark bowler hat.
— Hamilton Tiger-Cats (@Ticats) September 15, 2018