Stamps offence could never get on track
‘We just didn’t get the job done as playmakers’: Nik Lewis
Regrets, there were plenty.
“The frustrating thing,” murmured wideout Maurice Price, “is that we know this team is 100 times what we showed out there tonight. That stings. Really, really stings.
“I don’t know . . .
“In previous weeks, we were in sync and clickin’. Tonight we never seemed comfortable. Nothing came easy. Sounds cliched, but that’s really what it was.”
In almost a carbon-copy in reverse of last weekend’s West final in Vancouver, the Stamps were unable to punch the ball over the Argo until the final minute, after the outcome had been determined. Being forced to settle for field goal after blessed field goal — casting no aspersions on the ridiculously reliable Rene Paredes — in the defining game of the season had to leave them demoralized.
“I take my hat off to those guys,” said Price. “They did a good job stopping the run. We all know (Jon) Cornish is a helluva player. They played better than us tonight. Coach (Chris) Jones, he was as good as advertised.
“I don’t want to let tonight take away from everything we accomplished during the season. We did overcome a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries. For us to make it here at all was kind of big in itself.
“But this still hurts.”
An attack that had shown such late-game theatrics versus Saskatchewan and such clinical precision and big-play capability against the Lions, was never able to find something to latch onto, to feel good about. Although the net offence finished dead-even and the total yards only five apart, the reality never seemed that close. And the last, meaningless Stamp drive, with the Torontonians playing as far off as Brantford, succeeded in cosmetically propping up the Stamps’ stats.
Consider that the Argo stronghold held Cornish, the league’s leading rusher, to 57 yards (a 3.8 average) and kept quarterback Kevin Glenn off balance throughout.
“It was hard slugging,” sighed head coach John Hufnagel. “When you’re fighting back, you need to put the ball in the end zone. And when we do put the ball in the end zone” — a 105-yard Larry Taylor kick return, negated by a holding call — “there’s a flag.”
Even given the benefit of hindsight, Hufnagel said he never considered gambling on any of the late third-down decisions (the Stamps only third-down try, with Matt Walter running, was stuffed by the ravenous Toronto D near mid-field).
“Each time, kicking the field made it a two-score game. If I don’t make it, it’s still a three-score game. That’s the reason.”
“Seven teams do it, one team doesn’t,” philosophized slotback Nik Lewis. “They played really well. Didn’t give up a lot. You have to give them some credit.”
Glenn, the focal point heading in, admitted he could never find the keys to the car.
“He got some pressure early, but overall I don’t think overall he played that bad,” adjudged Lewis. “When your quarterback struggles, everybody struggles. But we’re not making the catches, we’re not making the plays to give him the confidence. So it’s on the offence as a whole.”
Offensively, the Stampeders seemed largely befuddled. Old friend turned antagonist, Argos defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones, hatched a bewitching game plan. The wily Jones, who exited Calgary under such controversial circumstances, certainly had the last laugh on the biggest stage versus his old employers.
“We just didn’t put the ball in the end zone, we had turnovers and penalties,” grumbled Lewis. “That’s a recipe for disaster. We drove the ball pretty well. They just did a good job of keeping us out of the end zone.
“That’s what Jonesy does as a defence. That’s one of the reasons we won in ’08. Keeping people out of the end zone.
“He did some things we didn’t really expect. At the same time, I felt like there were plays out there we didn’t make. People are going to run different defences all the time to try and take away different players or different things.
“We just didn’t get the job done as playmakers.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald