SPORTS

Stuck in a three-game slide, B.C. Lions know they have stick together

10/07/2014 08:41 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST
SURREY, B.C. - The B.C. Lions know the only way they're going to get out of their current slide is by sticking together.

Finger pointing won't get them anywhere.

The Lions defence hasn't allowed a touchdown in the last eight quarters, but the club still finds itself mired in a three-game losing streak thanks in large part to an injury-plagued offence that has sputtered badly.

"We go into the game as a team, we go out as a team," veteran defensive back Ryan Phillips said after Tuesday's practice. "That's regardless of the outcome."

The Lions dropped a 19-17 decision on Saturday in Hamilton despite keeping the Tiger-Cats out of the end zone, a week after doing the same in a 14-7 road loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

"The defence right now, yes we're doing well, but are we doing enough to get wins? No we're not. Obviously it's showing up on the scoreboard," added Phillips. "If we can limit teams to less field goals or whatever the case may be, then that's something we need to do. The only thing that matters right now is getting the outcome we're looking for, which is a win."

The CFL's No. 2 defence even scored a touchdown against the Ticats, with Josh Johnson returning an interception to the house, but it still wasn't enough.

"We have to expect to win every week. That's not something that can be taken lightly," said Phillips. "Our mentality should be to be dominant every week. If we're questioning ourselves and things like that then we don't give ourselves a chance to begin with."

B.C.'s offence has been ravaged by injuries this season, with quarterback Travis Lulay (shoulder), running back Andrew Harris (ankle) and slotback Courtney Taylor (foot) all out, while running backs Stefan Logan (leg) and Tim Brown (groin) have also missed time.

Despite the crowded sick bay, the Lions (7-7) aren't making any excuses.

"The guys in the locker-room and the guys on the field are the ones who have to get it done," said Phillips. "We can't expect miracles. We can't expect anybody else to come out here and get us wins. We've got to take care of our own business.

"We definitely feel like we're good enough, but it's only if you showcase it on the field."

Lions head coach Mike Benevides said his team needs something to go right on offence, pointing to a few key plays that have cost B.C. the last two weeks.

"It really comes down to a crisis of confidence," said Benevides. "In the game of football when you have all 12 pieces having to run an orchestrated ballet at the very same second, if there's any disjoint there or anything that's miscommunicated, you've got problems.

"Once we get it together and we get a victory we'll overcome that (but) until we put it together and physically dominate and physically impose our will on an opponent in a critical situation it won't change."

The Lions currently sit fourth in the West Division, two points up on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and four back of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos.

B.C. slotback Shawn Gore, who called it "extremely frustrating" to have an offence that is wasting stout defensive performances, said criticism of his team is warranted based solely on recent results.

"Definitely fair. It's fair to ask anything right now with the way we're playing," he said. "We have the athletes, but it takes more than just being a good athlete. It's about having the mental part, the mental toughness and the mental discipline to succeed."

With one unit dominating and the other struggling, Benevides said he isn't concerned about a division in the locker-room because the players understand the recent failures haven't been due to lack of effort.

"Like I told the defence, if you take four or five guys out of our group, what do you think's happening? So don't give me that crap," he said. "They fight together and we will continue to fight together. We will be stronger for this because of some of the things we're going through. Going through a 14-7 loss or a 19-17 loss or a 7-5 victory, it's going to pay dividends at some point in time."

That 7-5 win came last month over the Ottawa Redblacks (2-11), a team that will visit B.C. Place on Saturday.

The Lions who are Grey Cup hosts this year control their own destiny and can still turn things around, but Gore said just snapping the three-game slide isn't enough.

"Right now, the way we're playing isn't good enough to win," he said. "If we keep playing the way we are, we're going to lose if we get in the playoffs. It's about correcting the things we do wrong, and unless we do that in the next four games, there's no point in going to the playoffs."

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