Excitement for the new season quickly changed to frustration, as the Ottawa Redblacks squandered a chance to beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their home stadium, falling 19-17, thanks to a late drive orchestrated by Bombers’ backup quarterback, Dru Brown. The Redblacks probably deserved a better outcome than the one they got, but at times, they sunk their own ship.
Head coach Paul LaPolice has stressed the importance of punching the ball into the endzone for six, to end drives, rather than settling for field goals, but in this game, the Redblacks couldn’t make that happen.
“I thought we played well,” said LaPolice. “We didn’t get enough points, and we didn’t put ourselves in scoring position enough. We moved the ball well, but we gotta get into better scoring position.”
LaPolice might not want to end drives with a field goal, but he certainly would have been happy to have one at the end of the first half looking back on it now. With the Redblacks well into Bombers’ territory, the clock expired before they could kick the field goal, costing Ottawa at least three points, the points that could have been the difference.
“I told the players, we’re going to run the clock all the way down and score points at the end of the half,” LaPolice said. “We started a long drive and after a quarterback sneak, we were going to get one more play in to get closer. Our players were on the sideline running back in after the wedge, and we talked to them about being in a tempo situation. There were 16 seconds left, and we felt we could easily execute one more pass play.”
“For whatever reason, they didn’t get up to the line of scrimmage and I was waiting to figure it out. I was about to call a timeout when they got it snapped. It’s a situation we have to be better at.”
While many are pointing the finger at the head coach for the blundered clock management, veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli pointed the finger right back at himself.
“That for sure was on me,” Masoli said. “That had nothing to do with the coach. He coached us up to be on the line, and we weren’t on the line. We didn’t recognize it and still ran the play. I thought we would be able to get down, but it is what it is.”
“We have to be able to learn from that situational football, and we have to be better.”
Circle the one play if you want, but it wasn’t the only time the Redblacks hurt themselves. There were other moments, as well, and those will need to be ironed out.
“We let some opportunities get away from us,” Masoli said. “We had a lot of production out there, and I thought our offensive line was excellent tonight. We just came up short.”
Still, the Redblacks’ veteran group isn’t allowing one loss to drive them apart.
“Nobody is perfect on this team,” Masoli said. “Everyone had a mistake tonight, including me. We’ve just got to pick each other up when someone makes a bad play.”
The Redblacks will have another chance to take down the Blue Bombers in week two, when for the first time since 2019, Winnipeg comes to the nation’s capital.
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