If the words exist to describe the disappointment with the Ottawa Redblacks this season, it would take a seasoned linguist to find them. For the sixth consecutive time to start the season, the Redblacks found a way to lose a football game, and are still left waiting for their first win. With the rest of the East Division pulling away (albeit at a snail’s pace), they are firmly in the danger zone.
It’s the fifth time in their six games where the Redblacks lost by seven points or less, falling to the Montreal Alouettes 40-33. But the moral victories aren’t going to cut it anymore, the wins need to start coming, and they need to start coming fast. That has been the case for weeks, and still, it hasn’t happened yet. On Thursday night, it was another should have, could have, would have game for the Redblacks.
“I’m disappointed with the loss, and disappointed with an opportunity to win a game where we didn’t make enough plays to win a football game,” said head coach Paul LaPolice. “I thought they moved the ball really well [against our defence]. We had them backed up once, and they drove 100 yards for a touchdown. We got a takeaway, but it happened after a 60-yard gain, so we have to make sure we do things better defensively.”
“Offensively, we didn’t take our opportunities,” he continued. “We had two drops in the endzone and missed a field goal, so you just can’t make those mistakes and expect to win football games.”
On the final drive of the game, the Redblacks were within striking distance of a tie, and quarterback Caleb Evans found Darvin Adams wide open in the endzone, but the ball was dropped. Adams otherwise had a tremendous game, catching nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, but Evans was convinced they had tied the game.
“Yes,” Evans said, needing to say nothing more when asked if he thought the Redblacks had tied the game with Adams’s drop.
Adams’s drop took away from his otherwise fantastic performance, and while it’s the play fans will look back on as the difference in the game, LaPolice mentioned that there were numerous plays that changed the course of the game.
“I told the players, it’s not one play that wins or loses the game, we dropped a ball in the endzone early in the game too,” LaPolice said. “We’re all in this together with the win or the loss. Sometimes [a drop] will happen to guys.”
The Redblacks offence did look better on Thursday night, and the trick plays were out, but LaPolice says that isn’t because he did anything different with his playcalling.
“Caleb Evans got a little bit more time, and when you get first downs, more stuff comes out,” he said. “We were able to do some stuff because we were getting first downs.”
The end of the game was marred by the command centre stepping in to review numerous penalties, and the final 30 seconds of the game took about 10 minutes to actually play. While the field was showered with boos from Redblacks fans, the Redblacks themselves were moving backwards after a couple of roughing penalties by the Alouettes were overturned.
“As I told the players, we win and lose football games, not the officiating,” LaPolice said. “Whatever calls they made, it’s our responsibility to win the game. I know the fans did not like a lot of calls, but we have to find a way to win and not worry about officiating. That’s the least of our worries.”
The officiating was no excuse for the Redblacks, you don’t have that option when you’re 0-6, but Antoine Pruneau was critical of the system as a whole after the game.
“It makes it extremely hard for the officiating after that, because now we are reviewing everything,” said Pruneau. “Honestly, when I’m watching it at home, it looks like it could always go both ways, there are no right or wrong answers. I’m almost thinking do we have to go back to the call on the field is the call? Even when we review it in the command centre, I’m not sure the line is that clear.”
“The whole system, I think they are trying to make it perfect, and I think it’s impossible. I think it’s harder for the refs to call the plays because you’re not always going to make the right call. They are going to make the call and say ‘okay, we’re going to review this anyway,’ when before, maybe the focus was more there. Psychology, I don’t know.”
“I think it just exposes the people who are officiating our game,” he continued. “I think it’s a very tough job to be a referee, and I’m not going to put the blame for anything that has been happening this season on them. We have to fix our problems first, and when we play a perfect game and then we lose by one or two calls, then you’re going to see me complain about that.”
It’s unfamiliar territory for most of the coaches, players, and staff on the team. It doesn’t look good right now for the Redblacks, but for the members of the team, they have to stick with it.
“I’ve never done this before,” LaPolice said. “I have never been 0-6, I have never had this many losses, but this is my journey, and our journey. We just have to get out of it.”
Subscribe to 13th Man Sports to get email notifications when we post!