Riders 30 – Stampeders 14
In honour of finishing first in the west for the first time in 33 years, I decided to celebrate by also doing something that hasn’t happened in a really long time… posting Monday Morning Sentimonies on a Monday in the morning (lately it seems I settle for one or the other). I blame the chronic procrastination and laziness I’ve developed. Fortunately, in this day and age of non-discrimination and human rights, you’re not allowed to discriminate against me based on a medical condition.
It still doesn’t seem quite real. I mean I was there, I saw us win but the idea that we actually managed to win first hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Up until now the idea that we’d ever live to see the Riders finish first again was about as ridiculous as the idea that Michael Bishop was a good QB (more on that later).
Saturday’s game was the biggest regular season game in years and fortunately the Riders realized the importance of the game and came to play accordingly. Durant was the poised leader we needed him to be. He made good decisions and controlled the ball. Not surprisingly that led to a good offensive output. His main target was Andy Fantuuuuz who was a first down machine. Getzlaf continued his legacy of being a Stampeder killer. The run game was even half decent… I didn’t say great but at least it was good for something beyond the 1 yard run up the middle we’ve grown accustomed to.
I was most impressed with the defense. They stepped up against a very potent Calgary offense and limited them to only 1 TD. Yeah Reynolds seemed to run all over us but that will happen against the best RB in the league. We kept him out of the endzone though (which we couldn’t do last time we played the Stamps). Most importantly, they flustered Henry Burris which predictably led to a Stampeder offense that was about as potent as the average senior’s home resident. We didn’t force a lot of turnovers but still kept the Stamps in check. On that note: when did we amend the “illegal contact” rule to mean it is illegal for a defender to contact a ball thrown by Henry Burris and intercept it? Seriously that 2nd INT should have counted.
Another Rider performance that I think deserves mention is Jason Clermont. While he was, as usual, relatively absent from the stat sheet he did get involved in other ways. One was tossing around Burke Dales as he tried to get involved in a punt coverage (and beaking him just for good measure) and the other was inconspicuously joining the Stampeder huddle at the end of the game to figure out what kind of kick they were going to run. Not what you’d normally expect from a receiver but useful nonetheless.
The game had its stressful moments but the fact that we never trailed at any point during the game made things a lot easier on my heart than I expected. Probably a good thing though that it got a light week because I’m going to need everyone ounce of strength left in the old ticker to survive our first West Final on home turf since I’ve been alive.
Rest up Saskatchewan, in 2 weeks time the Riders take to the field, only one win away from a trip to the Grey Cup. Man that sounds good to say!
Around the CFL…
Winnipeg learned the hard way what happens when you hinge your season on the success of Michael Bishop. With the season on the line, Bishop managed to complete only 8 passes to his own players and 2 more to Hamilton players as the Bombers had their season ended by losing big to the Ti-Cats. Granted he didn’t get much help from Adarius Bowman (who played like he way high as a kite… and probably was) but still Bishop sucks. He can now add Winnipeg to the list of football teams whose season’s he has ruined. For the record, when the Bombers saw Bishop put his jersey on backwards while dressing for the game, they should have realized they were screwed.
As a fan of the game, I hope that GMs across the league can finally agree that Bishop is terrible and should never be called again. However as a fan of mocking Bishop, I hope there’s one stupid/desperate GM left out there who will give him one more shot.
Speaking of desperation and QBs… how about those Lions?!? Already having Jarious and Lulay out with shoulder injuries, they had to endure Printers injuring his thumb in the first quarter and Buck Pierce hurting his shoulder (again/still/this is just getting ridiculous) before halftime. That led to Zac Champion (though in name only) getting thrust into action and losing miserably. I love the irony in Wally Buono who has always had a long line of future all-star QBs, now being barely able to find one solitary QB healthy enough to finish the season. Someone should check his cholesterol levels.