The weather apparently doesn't care for the Edmonton Eskimos. Only a week after eking out a win in a rainstorm in Guelph, they were playing in a soggy environment again at home Saturday against the B.C. Lions—and this time, they didn't come away with a victory. The Eskimos' 17-3 loss to B.C. was another crazy weather game in a league that's had plenty of those so far, and it's still only July. Here's how Saturday looked and felt through photos and comments from players.
It certainly wasn't the easiest night for the fans. A paid attendance of 31,310 was announced, but nowhere near those numbers were able to stick it out through the entire downpour, which lasted from before the game until the fourth quarter. Eskimos' quarterback Mike Reilly's family stayed to watch him play, but many of those less personally invested headed for home before the game's end. Those who did stick around tended to get wet despite their rain gear:
It wasn't easy for players, either. At least the Eskimos were somewhat used to the conditions: they played in last week's storm in Guelph and practiced outside during the rain this week to prepare for rainy games. The Lions, by contrast, play in a stadium with a retractable roof, so they don't face these kinds of conditions all that much. Running back Andrew Harris called it a monsoon in his comments to The Canadian Press afterwards, but said the team was able to adapt:
"It was a monsoon out there,'' he said. "It was tough to focus on what was going on in the game because you were so worried about ball security and trying to stay dry. We just stuck at it. We're a mature team and we kept composed. It was just about executing when the opportunities were there.''
Here's Harris trying to catch a toss from quarterback Travis Lulay in the midst of the rain.
There's no question the weather did affect the play on the field and helped to minimize the offensive production on both sides, but it's interesting that the Lions were still able to find some success despite it. B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay told The Province's Lowell Ullrich that the rain affected the players' hands, but he was proud of the team's commitment to ball security despite that:
"I stopped trying to keep my hands dry in the first half. It was pointless. It was a lost cause. I can’t believe their luck for them … two weeks in a row," Lulay said. "Those were big raindrops."
"The thing I’m proud of is that there were a couple of slips, but I don’t think we turned the ball over otherwise, outside of a sneak play. To not have any issues, that’s hugely important."
Edmonton's offensive players were disinclined to use the conditions as an excuse for their loss. Quarterback Mike Reilly told The Edmonton Sun's Robert Tychowski they should have been better, and dropped some nice rain puns along the way:
“Nothing is going to go perfectly for the whole 60 minutes. You have to weather the storms and make plays when they present themselves and we weren’t able to do that.”
The Eskimos' defence also thought they should have been able to continue their strong play despite the wet conditions. Despite allowing just 17 points on the night and only getting three from their offence, linebacker J.C. Sherritt told Tychowski the defence still feels like they let the team down, as they lost the 3-1 lead Edmonton held at halftime:
“And you saw the conditions, that’s a defensive football game. We take responsibility as a defence. I felt we had a chance to win it on our own. They don’t score, they don’t win.”
Rain likely favours a defence in general, as it dilutes the efficiency of most passing attacks and makes it difficult for receivers and running backs to make sharp cuts. However, it's not always simple for defenders to wrap up opponents in the midst of a monsoon, and unsure footing doesn't make life easy for anyone. Here's a look at just how wet it was on the field, as shown by the puddle of water kicked up when Edmonton defensive back Aaron Grymes and B.C. receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux collided near the sideline boards Saturday:
The grounds crew tried to clear off some of that water, but that also wasn't a simple task given how much of it kept pouring down.
The amount of rain that was falling on the field is nicely illustrated in this shot of Bruce Simpson, the president of the Eskimos' Gridiron Gang group of business supporters:
The cheerleaders didn't have the easiest working conditions either:
Games like this also present challenges for the television crews, as they have plenty of expensive electronic equipment that doesn't tend to do well in water. Here's a shot of a TSN cameraman covering his camera in plastic:
Fortunately for the Eskimos, they'll get out of the rain next week when they travel to B.C.'s retractable-roof stadium. There are plenty of issues the team will have to look at, but at least they won't have to worry about the weather for once.
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