For the fourth time, the Edmonton Eskimos were not able to win an Eastern Final and make it to the Grey Cup game. Even though no team has been successful, the rallying cry of the team (Why not us?) was starting to resonate and was something the players believed in. The Hamilton Tiger Cats had the best record in the CFL at 15-3 and were a perfect 9-0 at Tim Horton’s field. They were also looking for their first championship since 1999!!
In last weeks’ semi final game, the Eskimos opened with a scoring drive and took control of things right from the outset. For Edmonton to have any chance to represent the East in this years Grey Cup, they would need to do the same thing again this week! Unfortunately, the Eskimo offence stumbled out of the gate committing two turnovers on their first three drives and quickly falling behind 10-0 in the first eight minutes of the game. After a disastrous start, the offence got on track with an eight play 74-yard drive culminating in a 21-yard touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels to cut into Hamilton’s lead.
The team needed to build on that momentum, but instead gave up a quick two play 69-yard drive to restore Hamilton’s 13-point lead. Both plays were to Brandon Banks but it was a spectacular 47 yard diving catch that found the end zone that turned the momentum right back to the Tiger Cats. There was still plenty of time left on the clock for the Eskimos to chip away at the lead. Edmonton put together a couple of scoring drives that resulted in field goals which made the score 20-13 with only 37 seconds in the half. Hamilton took the ball at their own 35-yard line and after an incomplete pass to Brandon Banks, Dane Evans found Anthony Coombes behind Brian Walker for a huge 34-yard completion. Hamilton had a chance to score a major, but a timely sack by Josh Johnson forced a field goal as the half expired.
A half time deficit has been a death knell for this years Eskimos. The team has a 1-9 record when they find themselves in that position and would be fighting an uphill battle this week. The Eskimos elected to receive the ball and Hamilton also gave them the wind…it was time to make a move. Unfortunately, the Eskimos did not score a single point in the third quarter and to make things worse, Hamilton got a field goal and safety to extend their lead to 28-13. The Eskimos did get a break in the fourth quarter when Luke Tasker fumbled the ball at this own 38-yard line and turned the ball over. It was exactly what the team needed to get back in the game…unfortunately they had to settle for a field goal.
That would be the last time the team be in striking distance. On the very next possession the Tiger Cats put the final nail on the coffin of the Eskimos as they drove 76 yards in seven plays to put the game out of reach at 35-16. The Eskimos just did not have an answer for what Hamilton was doing on offence and though the Eskimos had over 400 yards of their own and controlled the ball almost seven minutes longer, they could not score enough points. This has been an issue for the team for much of 2019 and perhaps it was a fitting end to the season.