'It hurts': Hamilton Tiger-Cats despondent after dream season ends with a thud
Record-setting season little solace for Ticats
There were no platitudes or silver linings in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats dressing room Sunday after the team fell flat in the Grey Cup final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Andrew Harris ran roughshod over the Ticats defence, quarterback Dane Evans was running for his life and sacked six times, and Hamilton's vaunted offence sputtered in a 33-12 loss.
"It hurts real bad. I'm not going to lie," said Evans.
"It just sucks man. Honestly it is just terrible. Not the way we would have pictured it. Not the way that we wanted it and it's all because of us," he added.
"We had a great game plan but we just didn't execute."
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Hamilton came into the game as the favourite after compiling a CFL-best 15-3 record and finishing atop the East Division standings. The Ticats were also 2-0 this season against the Bombers, who took third in the West with an 11-7 mark.
Hamilton also boasted the league's top-scoring offence (28.2 offensive points) and stingiest defence (17.9 offensive points) during the regular season.
"Winnipeg played a better game today and that's why they're champions," said Ticats coach Orlondo Steinauer, who held a lengthy team meeting after the game.
"I told them I was proud of them. That they needed to keep their head up. At some point they'll be able to reflect and let their emotions out. There's nothing wrong with that," said Steinauer.
"I wanted to make sure they touched each and every person in the room and in the organization because it'll never be the same. It's going to sting and the bottom line is we didn't play like champions tonight."
Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence said he believed the Cats would still find a way to come back in the game right up to the final whistle. He said the off-season is going to be tough.
"I'm not one for moral victories or nothing," said Lawrence. "We play this game to win the championship and anything other than that you should go back home and cry a little bit.
"When May hits it starts all over again but the only tough part is getting through the off-season and just staying focused and motivate myself to come back better and improve but it's going to hurt until the season starts."
Defensive lineman Ja'Gared Davis was playing in his fourth straight Grey Cup after he joined Hamilton from Calgary in the off-season. He said the team will improve and needs to use it as motivation for next year.
"Use it for motivation for the simple fact that we will get back. You don't want to feel this hurt and this bad again. All the guys are hurt. All the guys are hung low," Davis said.
"I'm telling them to pick it up because the next time we get back here we're going to be on the other side of the tape."