Saturday, August 18, 2012

Winnipeg 32, Hamilton 25

Normally this post comes much sooner, but I decided to take my time before writing this. After Thursday night's loss I was angry and I wanted to write this with a much clearer head. I probably won't wait this long again, but I was furious after the loss on Thursday and I would have been very, very negative. Allowing a day to clear my head was a good thing.

Positives

Chris Williams is the most explosive player in the league. His fumble on a punt return – which will be touched on later – was troublesome, but it is hard to be upset with a player who tallies over 300 total yards and three touchdowns. If he could just fix the little inconsistencies in his game, he would be an unstoppable player. As is, he is still a front-runner for Most Outstanding Player and almost a shoe-in for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

The team's other Williams is also someone who put together a solid outing in a loss. Williams had another seven tackles and a sack against Winnipeg. Williams is on pace for over 100 tackles for the first time in his career and he is a legitimate candidate for top defensive player. No complaints about the way Williams plays. Week in and week out, he is Hamilton's most consistent defensive player.

Despite an injury that took him out, it was a very impressive debut performance by new Tiger-Cat defensive lineman Bruce Davis. Davis made a couple of very nice plays before leaving the game with an injury and it looks like he will be in the Tiger-Cat plans from here going forward. Now we just have to await word on how severe his injury was. Hopefully, it will not keep him out of action long.

Negatives

Where else could I start but with turnovers. Committing six total turnovers, four fumbles and two turnover on downs, is not the way to win football games, especially on the road. Henry Burris inexplicably fumbled the ball four times, losing three, and his first was easily his worst. On what looked to be a touchdown that would have made the game 14-1, Burris was stripped on the one-yard line by Winnipeg defensive lineman Alex Hall. A touchdown there might have demoralized the Bombers and took the crowd completely out of the game. Instead, Winnipeg went down the field and kicked a field goal. Burris' fumble led to a 10-point swing. A six turnover game is unlikely to happen again, but it happened once and it cost the Tiger-Cats a win.

I don't know what happened, but after halftime the Ti-Cats decided it was time to make Joey Elliott look like the second coming of Warren Moon. The defense limited the Bombers to seven points in the first half, but they exploded in the second half behind Elliott's 406 yards passing. It was a stunning turnaround for a defense that was actually playing some decent football.

The defense was also able to keep Chad Simpson in check, until the fourth quarter. The Ti-Cats limited Simpson until the final quarter, but a combination of fresh legs and a defense that was on the field way too long, led to Simpson running all over the Tiger-Cat defense, just like Jon Cornish did in the fourth quarter a week ago.

And then there was the third and one playcall. Just what the heck was that? Third and even less than a yard and the Ti-Cats line up in a shotgun formation? That struck me as George Cortez thinking he's smarter than everyone else. For a guy who prides himself on being an offensive genius, that was one of the stupidest playcalls of his short head coaching career.

Final Thoughts

At first I was furious with the way I saw the Tiger-Cats play. They did everything in their power to lose that game on Thursday night. Whenever they had a chance to take a bigger lead or put together a decent drive, they fumbled it away.

But despite that, despite the six turnovers, the Ti-Cats still only lost by seven. A team that commits six turnovers should lose by 20. So does this loss actually show that a Tiger-Cat team that limits mistakes is still one of the better teams in the league? Maybe, but the problem is they are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league at the moment (sound familiar?) and that is probably the most frustrating thing about this loss.

This was a win that the Ti-Cats gave away and now they have given Winnipeg some hope. They have given them reason to believe that Joey Elliott is the guy that can lead them out of the basement and back into the playoff race. They now sit just two points back of the Ti-Cats and they are one win away from making this three-horse race in the East and four-horse one again.

This was a win that the Tiger-Cats could have come home with, but they didn't. It seems like just another example of the team not being able to take that next step when opportunity comes knocking.

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