There’s no point in going through all of the reasons the Stampeders lost tonight, but to quickly sum up:
— Penalties. Self-explanatory.
— Lack of execution on offence, particularly with (stop me if you’ve heard this before) the running game.
— The inability of the defence to get off the field.
What was disturbing tonight, though, was the point that John Hufnagel raised after the game, that his team seemed to wear down in the second half for the second straight home game. And it’s hard to argue that point; very clearly, B.C. and Toronto pushed the Stampeders around in the final 30 minutes, and to be blunt, that’s unacceptable if you’re the home team.
Yes, officiating may have been an issue tonight. How the Brandon Isaac hit on Jon Cornish was missed is beyond me, of course, and CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins confirmed afterwards that the play will be reviewed by league on Monday.
“Whether I take issue with the hits really doesn’t matter,” said Stamps coach and GM John Hufnagel. “They weren’t called; you have to just move on. I know our players were frustrated, but what are you going to do: lose the football game because you lose your composure? That’s not right.”
But, the fact remains that Cornish put himself in the position to take the late-hit penalty in the first quarter. The same can be said for Nik Lewis’s objectionable conduct flag for his “conversation” with Isaac. Both flags played a role in keeping the Stamps out of the end-zone — two forays inside the red zone produced a total of three points, partly because of the penalties.
Enough about the game. The REAL tragedy is that barring a post-season encounter (we can only hope), this was the final head-to-head meeting between Lewis and Isaac, who have become the CFL’s best one-on-one rivalry, if only for the verbal entertainment they provide.
Lewis, for instance, continued to chirp Isaac in the Stamps’ locker-room, and denied that Isaac had affected him during the game with his constant chatter — a continuation of the verbal wars they used to have as teammates last year.
“I know who he is,” said Lewis. “How can you get in my head? I’m laughing at him. I’m looking at him and smiling because there’s nothing he can do. I told (Argos coach Scott) Milanovich to make sure he doubles me (in coverage) every play because I consider Brandon a friend and I just don’t want him to get cut for a lack of production. Double me every play because I don’t want a friend to get cut.”
That sort of “compassion” is all too rare in today’s CFL, needless to say.
Isaac, predictably, was a happy man after the game, particularly after Lewis’s penalty.
“Yeah, I got the last laugh,” he said. “He got too emotional because he finally caught a ball on me so he wanted to be kind of sporty. I just stood there. We talked and he said some things the ref didn’t like.”
But as for the cheap-shot penalty on Cornish, Isaac was just as predictably defending himself.
“I saw him driving across, the quarterback looked that way, and I just took my shot at him,” said Isaac, contradicting what every replay seemed to show (that Cornish was nowhere near being involved in the play). “Football is a physical sport and I’m not a dirty player. I don’t pride myself on being a dirty player but it’s a physical game. He hit our team and got a flag and people aren’t hollering about that.”
(That might have been because, well, Cornish was CALLED for the penalty. I digress.)
“He came across and hit Ball and when I do something, I’m a bad guy because they’re losing and they’re trying to find some type of justification for what happened,” continued Isaac. “I didn’t see anything wrong with it. If the ref saw something wrong with it, they’d have thrown a flag. That’s what I think. The ref was right there. So, if it was a dirty play, they would have thrown the flag. I saw him come across the middle, the quarterback looked that way, so I took my opportunity to put my pads on. Unfortunately, it happened how it happened. I came on the worse end — I think I had a jammed neck but I continued to play through it. There’s going to be things out there like that in the game, but you’ve gotta play through it.”
A pity, as mentioned, that this will be the last time this regular season Isaac and the Stampeders cross paths.
Nothing much on the injury front, by the way, except that receiver Johnny Forzani suffered a broken pinky finger on his left hand early in the game.
And, straight out of the you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it department, it’s true: Toronto mayor Rob Ford watched the game from the sideline next to the Argos bench, and did indeed poke his head inside the Stamps’ locker-room at halftime in hopes of finding a bathroom. With great power comes great responsibility…