Winnipeg Blue Bombers centre Steve Morley was offering no excuses for the performance of his unit in a 26-3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos at Investors Group Field Thursday night.
"Give Edmonton credit, they kicked our ass," said Morley. "And we're going to have come out a lot better against B.C. (Friday) or it will be the same thing again, probably."
The Eskimos sacked Bombers QB Drew Willy five times and had him running for cover all night long. And the O-line wasn't much better opening up the run as the Bombers rushed for just 61 yards.
Morley was asked if it was all as exhausting as it looked. "It might have been more exhausting," he replied, "if we'd been on the field longer."
The Bombers had the ball for just 21:34, versus 38:26 for the Eskimos.
Despite the lopsided loss, Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea was taking the long view after the game when asked what his biggest concerns were.
"I don't have a lot of concerns," replied O'Shea. "The guys we have in that locker-room are the same guys we had for the first three wins. It's not like their character just changed in one loss."
O'Shea described a series of misadventures that combined into a crooked score.
"Right from the get-go -- returners bumping into each other, an interception for a touchdown... we hit a post on a field goal. We just couldn't get anything going...
"Things were going wrong and it all went wrong. And it snowballed from there."
The Bombers tackling Thursday was horrendously bad at times.
And no one proved harder for the Bombers defence to bring down than Eskimos QB Mike Reilly, who shook off tackles all game long as he rushed 10 times for 96 yards, much of that after first contact.
Bombers middle linebacker EJ Kuale -- who was among Reilly's unwitting victims -- was rendered nearly mute when asked how such a fundamentally sound Winnipeg defence in the first three weeks suddenly couldn't perform the most basic task in football against Edmonton.
"No comment," said Kuale. "You can ask another question, but there's not too much more we can say about tackles. We just didn't make tackles. It's cut and dried -- we just didn't get the job done. We can sit up here and make excuses, but that's not what this team is about."
O'Shea said his team was caught off guard by the different physical specimen Reilly is this season as compared to last.
"One of the things (the Eskimos) talked about was him coming back this year significantly stronger and heavier," said O'Shea. "So yeah, we underestimated him. When we look at the film we'll be disappointed we didn't squeeze a little tighter and bring him down. Because we had our chances -- he ended up getting several long runs off our missed tackles. And that's not like our defence."
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Bombers place-kicker Lirim Hajrullahu performed remarkably well when you could consider his duties were doubled just moments before the start of the game when veteran punter Mike Renaud pulled a hamstring in the warm-up.
Hajrullahu punted 10 times for a 45.2 yard average -- which is actually longer than the punting the Bombers have been getting this season out of Renaud, who is averaging 42.7 yards per punt.
And while the Western Ontario grad also missed his first field goal of the season -- a 44-yarder clanged off the upright -- he's still a very respectable 8-for-9 in that department in his rookie season.
Put it together and Renaud will want to get well soon.
"When they told me, I at least had some time to warm-up, so I was ready for it," Hajrullahu said after the game. "And I played all three positions (kickoffs, field goals and punting) at Western the last few years too, so I was okay."
"He played very well -- made some big punts," said O'Shea. "He did a fine job."
Bombers defensive back Demond Washington had another adventurous game, bumping into teammate Paris Cotton on a return and taking roughing the passer and objectionable conduct penalties.
The objectional conduct penalty came in the fourth quarter when Washington planted Edmonton receiver Fred Stamps in the chest. Stamps didn't have the ball at the time and ultimately left the field on a stretcher, breathing oxygen.
The receiver spent the night in a Winnipeg hospital with shortness of breath, but flew to Edmonton on Friday. He told the Edmonton Journal that he was OK, but declined further comment.
Washington was contrite after the game. "I hope the guy's all right, man," said Washington. "I don't go out there with the intent to injure. I'm just trying to be the best I can. I really hope the guy's all right."