Riders 26 - Lions 16
Well, the good news is that we won. And what a win at that! If you would have told me before the game that we would lose our starting QB and suffer 2 broken legs all before half-time and only manage 196 total yards in the game, I would have skipped watching the game and gone straight to drowning my sorrows with rye. Turns out despite all that adversity, the Riders dug deep and pulled out a gutsy win against the favoured Lions, who are now 0-2 (man that's feels awesome to say, Lions 0-2).
Once again hats off to our defense who are proving that they are one of the best defensive groups in the league. They kept the game close in the first half and then completely shut down the Lions offense in the 2nd, allowing 0 points and barely any yards. Through 2 games, the defense has allowed the fewest yards and points in the league... I guess Tillman knew what he was doing when he let Perry and Hunt go. Go figure. The D came up with some big plays, like the stuff on 3rd and 1 and the Lance Frazier INT... though according to Carm Cateri it was James Johnson who got the pick. Not the first time that an announcer has called the wrong name after a big play, but it's not often that a player wins defensive player of the game honours due to a case of mistaken identity.
On that subject, it wasn't a great night for the announcers overall. In addition to the defensive player of the game faux pas, Carm also managed to misdiagnose DJ Flick's injury as a separated shoulder - despite the fact that the trainers were trying to stabilize his leg as he was carted off the field. Later in the night, TSN viewers got to listen to Rod Black and Duane Forde congratulate Wes Cates on being named the Friday Night Gladiator two weeks in a row, thus leading the league in Movado watches. Shortly thereafter it was brought to their attention that Cates did not win the Week 1 Friday Night Gladiator award, possibly due to the fact that he did not play on Friday night. But just imagine if he had!
It was a good thing the defense locked things down, because our offense struggled to do much of anything. Most of the problems stemmed from Marcus Crandell pulling his hamstring early in the first half. Back-up Steven Jyles then proceeded to attempt to make every QB mistake possible in the smallest amount of time: Errant passes, check. Throwing over the line, check. Failure to manage the clock, check. Interception, double check. He was a fumble away from hitting for the cycle. The underthrow that resulted in a broken leg for DJ Flick was particularly ugly, and if it was me in that situation it would probably also result in a crutch to the back of the face for Jyles at practice this week. Fortunately for the Riders, Ken Miller pulled Jyles in favour of Durant to start the second half. While Durant didn't do anything spectacular, he did manage the game well and more importantly he didn't turn the ball over. He also made a wise decision for a young QB to make... give the ball to your talented running back. Cates made some spectacular runs and ended up accounting for over 2/3 of our total offense.
Another high point from the game was the performance of returner Weston Dressler. This guy will run a few kicks back this year, mark my word. What I like most about Dressler is that even though he's always looking for holes and corners to make a break, he's always running forward, never backwards or side to side. Honestly, Dressler's biggest problem on returns is that he's way faster than his blockers. Did you see that play where he had to slow down and wait for his blockers to catch up? Shows just how fast this guy is.
Of course any talk of the game wouldn't be complete without mentioning injuries. On top of Crandell pulling his hamstring, Leron Mitchell broke his leg and DJ Flick broke his in 2 places in one of the most gruesome plays I've seen in a long time. I haven't seen a leg twist and bend like that since the Stretch Armstrong I had as a kid. Despite our depth at receiver, this will still be a big loss for the Riders. Remember that last year Flick was tied for the league lead in receiving TDs, not to mention that he plays with a ton of heart. As nasty as it looked, early reports are that it will not be career ending which is great news. There is even some speculation that he could be back in time for a playoff run but I won't hold me breath on that one.
Make no mistake - while it wasn't the prettiest win, it was no fluke. Our team overcame some early adversity and earned the win. Many teams would have packed it in when faced with that kind of adversity but the character of this team shone threw and we fought hard to remain undefeated. Honestly there are few things as satisfying as watching Wally Buono lose it on the sidelines. Though with his cholesterol problems I worry about the affect that kind of stress will have on his health.
Around the CFL...
As predicted the Toronto gong show continues to get better with each passing week. The QB controversy continues to intensify. While Stubler did manage to keep one QB on the field the entire game, you could still feel the tension. Bishop sat on the sidelines all game looking like Joseph had run over his dog. Toronto's glaring offensive problems were intensified when for once the defense wasn't able to bail them out. I know a 3-4 defense is susceptible to the run but that was downright embarrassing. Hamilton (who actually looked like a legitimate team for once) had their way with Toronto aside from that one hit Wheaton laid on Jason French. What a hit! Many will say that Wheaton's hit caused an incompletion but in reality the hit just interfered with French dropping the pass on his own. Word is after that dreadful performance Rich Stubler will take over all offensive meetings and will let Joseph start calling his own plays. This makes offensive coordinator Steve Buratto a lock for first coach to be fired this year. And here I thought it would be Maciocia.
I knew Calgary's defense hadn't improved a whole lot. On Thursday night against the Eskimos they looked they Calgary of old, surrendering 448 yards passing. And in keeping with the looking like the Calgary of old theme, Henry Burris certainly played the part. After a solid performance all game including a go ahead TD with just over a minute left, Burris choked under pressure and threw an INT in the dying seconds of the game. Now granted, had the defense not let Edmonton drive the field in under 30 seconds, Burris wouldn't have had to try and win the game for his team BUT all the Stamps needed was a FG to tie and a few short completions would have easily put them in DeAngeles' range. Instead, Burris tried to be the flashy hero like he always does and went for it all on a long TD attempt and ended up throwing an INT. I hope Hufnagel knows the Heimlich maneuver because Burris is so prone to choking the condition could be classified as chronic.
I'm the Rider Prophet and those are my sentimonies.