Riders 33 – Lions 30
16 games into the season, the decision to play James Patrick at safety finally paid off. Hazah!
I won’t lie, following the Durant pick 6, I wasn’t very optimistic about our chances (fortunately I wasn’t dumb enough to leave the stadium and miss another amazing finish). Even in OT, the Lions seemed to be moving the ball at will and it looked like they were poised to score a game winning TD. Then along comes James Patrick to snag the game winning interception. To be fair I will give the assist to Omarr Morgan on that one as he managed to get away with a level of contact on Geroy Simon that would generally require a home pregnancy test the next morning.
The way the finish unfolded, I think it’s safe to say that no less than 5 years of my life expectancy were lost. I can take excitement, I can take disappointment and I can take anger but it’s the quick back and forths that are killing me. Its times like that when I wonder how Wally Buono manages. What with his cholesterol issues and all.
If there was ever a worse game to lose both our start HBs this was it. Facing the top slotback combination in the league and seeing Chris McKenzie having to get the start for Lance Frazier (who was hospitalized with severe dehydration due to the flu) was somewhat concerning. Then seeing Eddie Davis get hurt leaving us with McKenzie and Tad Kornegay as the guys tasked to keep them in check was scary to say the least. It predictably led to a big game for Simon but all things considered it could have gone a lot worse (though it appeared that any 2nd and long situation was an automatic BC first down).
It didn’t help that we were facing a QB with an amazing ability to escape pressure and throw on the run (which I warned would be dangerous). I knew before the game that Printer’s was by far BC’s best QB (even if the others were healthy) and he went out and proved it. While that game losing INT was classic Printers circa 2007, the rest of the game was more Printers circa 2004 – mobile, elusive and strong armed. BC is a better team with him under centre heading down the stretch. I wonder if he gave himself one of his famous motivational speeches before the game.
Much like my heart rate, Durant seemed to bounce up and down, flat line and eventually recover. There were times when the offense was frustratingly ineffective but when it mattered most Durant did not disappoint. He seems to be able to drive for a game tying TD and 2 poitn covert at will (now if he could just learn to do this before the 4th quarter we’d be set). Unlike last year when our QB was our biggest liability heading into the playoffs, this year it appears to be one of our strengths. I have been saying Rob Bagg is a monster for a while now and hopefully you have now joined me as proud Bagg supporters.
Man that Sudoku kid can kick! I will definitely miss the Juggernaut but Sakoda seems to be a more than capable replacement as he was booming those kickoffs. Now I just need to see him punt. If the hype on this kid is accurate (and we all know that’s always the case), he should be able to hit City Hall… with his left foot… blind folded… into the wind… while making pancakes. It appears as though Luca Congi has decided to take over as our overly aggressive kicker in Boreham’s absence as evidenced but the hit he threw on the first return. That last FG attempt in the 4th was a heart breaker; he had the leg but was just inches too far left. Despite his 2 misses, I’m still confident in his abilities to hit the clutch kicks come playoff time… provided he grows a dirty playoff moustache.
Armstead turned in another fine performance and it feels as though it’s only a matter of time before he finds the endzone. To be fair the refs blatantly missed an illegal block call on the one long return… but that was definitely a make-up call as they also missed a blatant illegal block on BC on the previous kick which led to a long return. Still Armstead has managed to turn a return game where maintaining possession and not losing yards was considered a massive victory to one were we are now expecting good returns every time.
I would also like to give props to our O-line. BC leads the CFL in sacks and had managed 11 sacks in our previous 3 meetings but the hoggies came to play and did not allow a sack. Even the run game was half decent… which is a monumental increase over the normal ineffective we’ve come to expect when we face BC.
It wasn’t pretty but we certainly got our money’s worth and for once the Riders are managing not to choke with 1st place on the line. For now I will focus on resting my heart because I have a feeling that the November 7th game against the Stampeders with 1st place on the line will take its toll on the old ticker.