Rider 27 – Montreal 28
As time expired on Sunday, I sat in the stands… head in my hands. Unable to move. Unable to speak. Unable to comprehend what had just occurred. I had just witnessed over 59 minutes of the most exciting football I had ever seen, yet the events of those final seconds will be what we all remember of the 2009 Grey Cup. It didn’t matter that we outplayed the best team in the league for most of the game. It didn’t matter that we had the lead for all but the final second of the game. It didn’t matter that Montreal missed the FG that should have decided the game. It didn’t matter that tens of thousands of Rider fans were set to launch a celebration like no one had ever seen. All that mattered was one mistake. One mental error that was uncharacteristic of our team but ultimately decided the outcome of what was otherwise an absolute classic finale to the CFL season. Players, coaches, fans, a nation, heartbroken.
While I walked into McMahon Stadium fully expecting a win, I had resigned myself to the fact that there would be no shame in losing to a heavily favoured Alouette team. But to lose the way we did is a bitter pill to swallow.
Unlike many, I don’t care who screwed up. I’m not looking for a scapegoat to tar and feather, it doesn’t really matter at this point… besides there is no money in the budget for either tar or feathers as I spent the bulk of it in an Asian karaoke bar in downtown Calgary (it’s a long story). There was a screw up, it cost us the game, it sucks balls but singling out the 1 player responsible won’t change anything. They played as a team, they lost as a team. Besides there were other moments in that game that if they had gone differently would have led to us celebrating instead of lamenting: if Congi doesn’t miss a FG we win, if Durant doesn’t toss up that desperation long pass that gets picked off we win, if we recover that bobbled punt we win, if we attempt a pass over 2 yards and make that final 1st down we win. We win as a team, we lose as a team.
Ultimately when we look back on the 2009 season we will have to consider it a success. A 1st place finish, a Grey Cup appearance, a Defensive Player of the Year, a closely fought championship battle with the best team in the CFL… all with a very young team. Despite the last play of the year, it was a phenomenal season by the Riders and given how young the core of this team is, it gives us great hope that many more seasons like this are in store over the next few years.
Mark my words: Buy your Edmonton Grey Cup tickets when they go on sale because the Riders will be back there next year.
A couple final thoughts:
- Thanks to those of you who came up and said hi before the game. It was nice to meet you. It was also nice to be recognized as the Rider Prophet instead of some of the other guesses people came up with such as Jesus, Santa or my personal favourite Heavy Metal Moses.
- It was ironic that the winner of the 50/50 at the game took home $75,000… which is more that a lot of the actual players made all season.
- Note to Stampeder fans: I don’t begrudge you for cheering against us (lord knows I cheered against you last year), that’s fine. But when some of you come up to us after the loss and try telling us how much we suck, it just makes you look like an idiot. If the Riders suck because they couldn’t beat the Als… then how much worse must the Stampeders be if they couldn’t even beat our supposedly sucky team?
And thus ends the 2009 CFL season, but don’t go anywhere over the offseason. I have plenty in store for you to help you through the long offseason ahead. In addition to keeping you up to date on all the signings and offseason moves of the Riders and the rest of the CFL, we will also have our typical assortment of filler posts to keep you entertained until training camp rolls around again.