In front of another sell-out crowd (the 4th straight at Mosaic), the Riders defeated the Montreal Alouettes 33-22. Finally, after 3 straight weeks of having to lament Rider losses, I get to talk about a Rider win. Which is good because after a losing streak that lasted close to a month I was shorter on decent material than Rob Vanstone since Henry Burris got hurt.
In my last entry I said that the keys to winning this game would be plugging up the middle and covering Thurmon. The Riders were able to do both. We held Payton to 31 yds and Thurmon only accounted for 1/3 of the Alouette passing game (which if you ask Marcel Bellefeuille is a major reason they lost). Don't get me wrong, our defense was by no means stellar (we did allow 410 passing yds) but they at least got the job done.
What impressed me the most this week was the offense. Kerry Joseph seems to have gotten his legs back as he ran for 73 yds and added 355 yds and 3 TDs through the air. As I expected, Fantuz had a monster game and the way he's playing, he should have a lot more to come. It was also nice to see Holmes get a couple TDs. The play of the game however was the DJ Flick TD. I mean Chip Cox had perfect coverage and Flick still managed to come up with the ball off the deflection. I think we can all relate to how hard it is to score when you are Cox blocked.
James Johnson reminds me of a high school cheerleader. He plays football about as well and he's constantly being taken advantage of by the QB. He's absolutely brutal plain and simple. If I never see him in green and white again it will be too soon. Here's a list of people I would rather see line up at DB: Patrick Kabongo, Bob Barker or a garden gnome.
I would also like to once again commend the efforts of Jamie “The Juggernaut” Boreham. I love watching this guy. Most teams have a punter who gets the ball off and then acts as a last resort for tackling if the returner breaks through everyone else. We have a punter who gets the ball off and then tries to outrun the coverage team and either recover the ball or punish the returner if they get it first. His success ratio in this regard is no small feat given that we have guys like Carter and Jones out there
Around the CFL...
If you were watching Friday Night Football you could see the exact moment when the Eskimos season officially ended. In the 2nd quarter, Willie Pile came untouched on an LB blitz and blindsided Ricky Ray. The result was Ray separating his throwing shoulder. That leaves the Eskimo offence in the hands of an unproven southpaw QB who's go to guy is a receiver with a broken thumb. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Calgary, not to be outdone, was forced to play Barrick Nealy after Akili Smith got hurt early in their game. I didn't think there was any way that Calgary's chances could get worse after losing Burris but they did.
It's really a bad time to be a QB in the CFL. Only 2 starters are left: Joseph and Glenn. In the words of Glen Suitor, to be a QB right now "You gotta have the nerve of a riverboat gambler". The injury list seems to grow each week: Dickenson, Pierce, Ray, Burris, Smith, Allen, Bishop, Calvillo, Brady, Printers. Not to mention Maas, Chang and McMahon who were benched. At a time like this, how awesome is it to have Crandell locked up for 2 more years? Given how desperate Edmonton and Calgary must be for a QB, don't be surprised if there's a missing person ad featuring Nealon Greene on the next carton of milk you buy.
That's it for now. This weekend the Riders will be in Calgary and the whole Rider Prophet crew will be making the trip as well. Media Consultant, Man in the Bush and myself will be invading Cowtown, so check back later as we gear up for the game and the road trip.