‘TOUGH PILL TO SWALLOW’
Sour taste of playoff loss lingers with Redblacks
Ottawa Redblacks receiver Greg Ellingson limped into a scrum of reporters on Tuesday — he was forced out of Sunday’s disappointing 31-20 Canadian Football League East Division semifinal loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders with a knee injury.
Hurting even more, though, was the way his team went down in its biggest game of the season.
“It’s tough, but they were the better team that day,” Ellingson said. “They won the day — they moved forward and we didn’t. We made some of the mistakes we’d made all year, we turned the ball over twice in their territory. You can’t do that, especially in playoff football. That’s the difference between winning and losing.”
“We couldn’t stop the run and we couldn’t get a damn turnover,” said linebacker Taylor Reed, a potential free agent.
“Defensively, we have to get better. We have to help our offence. We have to create turnovers and give our offence a short field.
“It’s crazy because we’re used to at least going to the final. This is a tough pill to swallow, I really believe this team had the talent to go all the way. To play here in Ottawa (in the Grey Cup) would have been a dream come true. It’s a young defence, these guys are really talented. If we can keep the core here, it should be something special next year. I’d love to be back in Ottawa. But I can’t control that.”
Coach Rick Campbell tried to explain what went wrong during a game where Ottawa’s offence made a couple of back-breaking mistakes, plus its defence sprung several leaks.
“We lacked making the big play,” Campbell said. “They created some turnovers, we didn’t. There were multiple opportunities in the game to make some plays to get ourselves back in the game — it just didn’t happen.”
The Redblacks will regroup — figure out which players they need to retain and what fixes they need to get better for 2018.
Said GM Marcel Desjardins, when asked about his team’s defence, in particular the pass rush: “Did it all come to fruition the way we wanted it to? No.
“But part of the equation is trying to create stuff and be a bit more aggressive in getting to the quarterback. We were up there in the stats in terms of pressures, but we weren’t able to finish consistently, so that’s something we need to work on.”
Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell arrives to take part in an end of season media availability in Ottawa yesterday following Sunday’s loss.