There might not be a worse time to play the Calgary Stampeders than when they’re coming off a loss.
While the Stamps have won more regular-season games than any other team in the CFL over the last half-decade, they’ve seemed downright unbeatable in games where they were defeated the previous week.
In fact, the Stampeders haven’t lost back-to-back games since they were defeated by the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes in consecutive games in Week 2 and Week 3 of the 2012 season.
That’s a stretch of 91 games — the longest a CFL team has ever gone without losing consecutive regular-season matches. The second-longest streak, for what it’s worth, is owned by the Toronto Argonauts, who went 54 games without dropping back-to-back matches between the start of the 1936 season and the end of ’46 – there was no play from ’42-44 due to the Second World War.
So what’s the secret?
The Stamps don’t make it sound all that complicated.
“I didn’t even pay attention — we’ve got to live in a real-tight one-game window,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “If you focus on that one game — I know it’s cliché — but make sure you get it done. Give me your best, give me your best and take care of that one game. Usually, that’s the most success you’ll have.”
It’s entirely possible that the Stampeders’ unprecedented run of never dropping back-to-back games is simply a result of how good the team has been over the past couple years.
At the same time, though, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said the team reacts in a very specific way to their losses.
“I think it’s more the culture of the team,” Mitchell said. “Losing always refocuses and humbles a team. A lot of the time when we lose, it’s not a lack of talent or effort. It’s attention to details or being overconfident in some things.
“(Losing) humbles the guys. We lock back in. We pay attention to details, and that’s why there’s never two in a row. That’s been the way it’s been so far, and hopefully, we keep it going.”
That could be bad news for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who visit McMahon Stadium on Saturday (7 p.m., TSN) only eight days after the Stampeders lost their first game of the season, dropping a 30-23 decision to the host Montreal Alouettes in Week 4.
When the Stamps picked up their first loss last year in Week 1 against the B.C. Lions, they stormed out of the dressing room a week later and smashed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 36-22.
“It’s the culture — we might be a little ornery,” said Stamps defensive back Josh Bell. “We take a loss — we take it personally. We do a good job of correcting our mistakes from the week before, really. We make mistakes, we lose games, and we come back and correct those mistakes and win again.”
Ask around the Stampeders dressing room, and they all gave similar answers.
After the loss to the Als in Montreal, Mitchell and defensive star Micah Johnson both explained that the Stampeders wouldn’t be hanging their heads just because they dropped a game.
Instead, they insisted that it was simply time to get back in the film-room and begin fixing some mistakes that may have been papered-over during their undefeated three-game start to the season.
Against the Alouettes, there were a couple costly errors that the Stampeders believe they can avoid if they just keep things a little more simple.
“I think a lot of guys here hate losing,” said Stamps receiver Marquay McDaniel. “When you lose, you want to get back on that field as soon as possible. I think that’s the thing around here — we always reload.
“It’s a good thing we’re back at home — we’ve got a West (Division) matchup this week. We’re ready to go. I know me, personally, I haven’t been playing as good as I want to. I felt like I left some plays out there last week, so me personally, I’m ready to get back out there.”