The wait has seemed endless at times. It’s already been 12 days since the Riders last played and there’s still 3 more sleeps to go (or 2 sleeps and 1 passed out drunk, in my case - not necessarily in that order). But the West Final is definitely worth waiting for. Besides, we already waited 33 years, what’s a few more days?
Over 4 months of football, 18 games, struggles, successes, wins, loses… all become about as meaningful as the MTV Russia Music Awards (I, like most people, assumed that communists weren’t allowed to listen to music… though I guess the likes of Sergey Lazarev can hardly be considered music). It all comes down to 60 minutes of football. The winner goes to Grey Cup. The loser will be cleaning out their lockers on Monday.
Home crowds play a very important part of this game for both teams. The Riders get to play the biggest game of the year in front of a capacity crowd at home. The Stamps are playing for a chance to play for a 2nd straight Grey Cup in front of their home crowd (to be fair though, it will essentially be a home game for the Riders should they win too).
The fact is that Calgary failed to beat us in three attempts this season but lots of people keep telling me that means the Stamps are due. Sorry but I call BS to that logic. The Riders were “due” for another Grey Cup for 18 years, the Blue Bombers are still “due” for another Grey Cup after 19 years and counting, the Maple Leafs have been “due” not to suck for so long that most people can’t even recall a time when they weren’t “due”. If you believe in being “due”, then I guess that means Megan Fox is due to return my 7,000th phone call after shutting me out on my previous 6,999 attempts and that she's also due to drop the pending lawsuit she filed against me for spying on her through her bedroom window and rummaging through her garbage because her lawyers finally buy my “its her fault for having windows and garbage cans that aren’t locked" defense. "Due" is something that people too stupid or lazy to apply actual logic come up with for lack of something useful to say.
Lots of focus is being put on Henry Burris heading into the game. We all know how dangerous he can be with his legs and his arm but quite frankly Burris is the least of my worries (what with the recession, flu pandemics and a pending lawsuit). In 3 games against us this season, Burris was quite average. Mid 200s in passing yards each game and only 3 passing TDs offset by 2 INTs and 2 fumbles overall. Even last week, when Burris was given the relatively easy task of beating the worst secondary in the CFL, he looked very mediocre. If he couldn’t light up that group of failures then I can’t see him torching our vastly superior secondary (featuring a returning Eddie Davis) with great ease. The man we need to worry about is the man we always need to worry about - the Western MOP, Joffrey Reynolds. He has run for over 100 on us every time this year. He’s a lot like the rash on Man in the Bush’s inner thigh… you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it. This is the way I look at it… Reynolds will probably run for 100 but the key will be keeping him out of the endzone. In our 2 victories he didn’t find the endzone. In the tie he scored 3 times. Stop Reynolds, stop the Stampeder offense.
For the Riders, it’s all about Durant. As important as the play of our defense is, it’s his play will dictate the outcome of the game. The Stamps play a very aggressive D but thus far it hasn’t fazed Durant. He’s thrown for over 250 yards/game and 7 TDs with only 1 turnover against the Stamps this year. If he can keep up that level of play and receives some defensive support, the game should be very similar to the regular season finale. His methods may seem unorthodox and at times down right scary but he has an unstoppable will to win that pays off in the end more times than not. He instills confidence in his team and the fans.
This is a battle of 2 of the most potent offenses in the league and the winner will be determined by which defense steps up more in the face of that adversity. We have a boat load of talent on defense and though they have struggled at times this year, I fully expect them to be up to the challenge.
I can barely contain my excitement/nervousness. Even just typing this, my hands start shaking and my heart starts racing. We are so close to the Grey Cup. The stakes are the highest they’ve been at Mosaic in decades. As fans we need to make sure our intensity matches the intensity we are expecting out of the players. Mosaic should be literally shaking from the player entrances to well beyond the final whistle (unless of course we are on offense, then absolute silence is a must… yes I’m talking to you morons in the back rows of the upper deck… shut up or I will punchasize your face so they have to wire it shut!!). The energy should be beyond anything we’ve seen this season. If you can speak on Monday morning you are not a true Rider fan.
Much to the detriment of my heart and physical well being, I expect an extremely close game that will not be decided until the dying minutes of the game. A late Burris INT to Lance Frazier leads to a game winning drive by Durant, capped off by a TD to the “Stampeder Killer” Chris Getzlaf.
Riders by 4
In other news…
Though I expect the Alouettes to easily handle the Lions, I secretly hope Casey Printers leads the Lions back to the Grey Cup only to have Wally bench him for the big game in favour of Buck Pierce (who goes out and loses the game). It seems the only fitting end to his Cinderella-type return story.
Lastly, the Riders announced that they have re-signed CB Donovan Alexander to a 2 years plus an option contract. This is great news for a couple reasons. First, we are locking up a very talented young Canadian who exceeded all expectations in his first year starting on the corner. Second, since we are re-signing guys like Congi, Fantuz and now Alexander it likely means we are under the cap and have extra money to spend on signing bonuses. Hazah!