Riders 46 – Argos 36
I think the word to describe the 2009 Riders so far would definitely have to be exciting. After struggling in the first quarter, the Riders exploded for the 2nd best single quarter performance in franchise history, putting up 30 points. It was a true team effort as all 3 phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams) contributed points.
Despite dealing with a bruised throwing hand, Durant looked greatly improved over last week. Other than a late INT, he controlled the ball extremely well. He spread the ball around to all his receivers including 2 absolutely beautiful TD passes to Fantuz and Dressler. He still has room to improve his game but he looked a lot more comfortable out there.
Another solid performance was turned in by Hugh Charles (who apparently missed his calling in life as an acrobat). He’s no Wes Cates but he is providing us with a viable ground game in his absence, not to mention I doubt Cates could perform a flip… let alone 2. I’m curious to see how many TDs in one game it will take before Charles gets too dizzy to complete all his flips. Something just tells me that a 4 TD performance probably won’t end well. Credit also has to go out to the O-line. Despite missing 3 starters and being forced to resurrect ghosts of failed drafts past, they really held their own out there, surrendering only 1 sack.
Any concerns that our defense would be a 1 game flash in the pan were put to rest Saturday. It took them a while to get going but once they did they amassed 2 sacks, an INT, 3 forced fumbles and safety. At this rate they are on pace to out produce last year’s defense by the midway point of game 4. Stevie Baggs continues to lead the defense. His output and unbelievable hustle make me wonder if the rest of our defenders would benefit from having their shins adjusted inwards. We still need to do a far better job of tackling on running plays but so far you’ve got to be impressed with Gary Etcheverry’s ability to deliver on his promise of an aggressive D that causes turnovers.
On special teams credit goes to the hustle displayed by Jerrell Freeman on his blocked punt and Luc Mullinder on his debut at kick returner (though I don’t think he’ll be challenging Eric Morris for full time return duties anytime soon).
While you’ve got to give credit to our team for being aggressive and capitalizing on opportunities, you’ve also got to shake your head at the Argos’ ability to self destruct. After a strong 1st quarter, the players decided that taking a crazy amount of stupid penalties (14 1st half penalties for 131 yards) and fumbling the ball (3 times) was a good idea. It’s like they were going out of their way to give the win to the Riders. Bart Andrus has his work cut out for him because it’s not a lack of talent that is holding his team back, it’s a lack of discipline.
Overall it was another impressive effort by the Riders. It never seems to be pretty but you can always tell that the Riders simply want it more than their opponents and effort like that will always be rewarded. We’ll see how they do this week when they face their toughest challenge yet in the mighty Alouettes.
Around the league…
- Edmonton may have placed Jesse Lumsden on the 9 game injured list a bit prematurely. You’ve got to think that even with only one arm, he couldn’t have been worse than the guy they found to replace him.
- Speaking of premature… does anyone think Nik Lewis would like to amend his “best team ever” claim?…or at least temporarily retract it until the Stamps can find a credible defense, a non-turnover prone QB and a couple wins?
- BC is in a trouble. I mean playing Hamilton at home is as close as you can get to the CFL schedule makers offering you 2 free points. This can't be good for Wally's cholesterol.