Riders 37 – Lions 18
Saturday the Riders got their second win of the young season in front of a sold out crowd at Empire Field (which is a really nice place from the looks of it). After a fairly evenly matched first half, the Riders dominated the second half on route to a convincing victory. It was the first time in a while that the win was not a roller coaster ride that took years off my life. It was a relatively stress free experience… that was a plus.
Unlike last week when the offense was the difference maker, I thought the Riders played well in all 3 phases of the game. Defense played good overall, special teams was much improved and offense… well they were our offense and continue to be a force to reckon with. That said after tossing 5 TDs last week, was 1 TD toss the best Durant could muster? Come on! Show some effort #4!... I’m kidding relax. Durant played outstanding. He is poised, making great reads and has yet to thrown an INT (which was his only major flaw last season).
Wes Cates had another great game. Admittedly I expected absolutely nothing out of him this season but man oh man was I wrong. He’s traded his ballerina slippers for big boy shoes and is running with authority again. Charles offered a nice change of pace to round out a solid running game. Dressler continues to make amazing catches. While many people were critical of the amount of times we sent him over the middle and exposed him to big hits, I’m not so worried. You see Dressler is like the Smart Car of the CFL… he’s so small that he just bounces off contact without much damage. Physics are on his side. It was nice to see a strong offensive attack even when one of our top guys (Bagg) was held completely off the stat sheet. We just have too many weapons to be kept in check.
The only downside offensively was the Wayne Smith experiment ending before it really got started. I feel sorry for Wayne because he is a stand-up guy but he has unfortunately been cut form the same cloth as Jesse Lumsden and Adam Braidwood… he has all the talent in the world but is trapped in a body constructed primarily of apple cores and Chinese newspaper. Given the severity of this injury on the heels of his achilles injury last year, I could see this as being a career ender for Smith, which is a shame. I was impressed at the play of Best and Geno while filling in after the injury.
Defense stepped up big time after struggling last week. Part of that may have to do with their opponents. I mean a 2 time MOP QB and an all-star line are a lot tougher to contend with than a fairly inexperienced line and a motivational speaker QB. My big concern going into the game was Hawkins not being able to keep contain on Printers. Well he did that and then some, bringing big pressure and notching up 2 sacks and a forced fumble for a TD and knocking Printers out of the game. For the second week in a row our run defense was extremely solid, taking Robertson out of the equation for most of the night. If the defense continues to improve like they did this week, very good things are in store for this team.
I love how its pretty much a given that when the Riders play the Lions, BC’s starting QB is going to get injured by our defense forcing the backup into action. Heck the way Lulay was getting hit, I thought we might be seeing Jarious get forced into action too.
My favourite moment of the game was watching Paul McCallum trying to outrun Hugh Charles for a first down on a fake punt. That was seriously like watching a buggy being pulled by a pair of 3 legged horses try to pass a supped up muscle car… he never had a chance. A close second was when it looked like Barrin Simpson had killed O’Neil Wilson just before halftime.
Overall it was an impressive win that was the product of solid play from the entire team. I know it’s early in the season but the Riders have already established themselves as the team to beat.
Other random thoughts from around the league…
- The Bombers’ special teams unit is a perfect storm of failure. Not only do the field a coverage team that can’t cover a kick to save their soul, especially missed FGs. They also have a kicker who misses an excessive amount of FGs.
- LaPolice must assume based his experience here that any Canadian receiver can be made into an all-star because he inexplicably seems to have based his offense around Brock Ralph. Problem is Ralph is no Bagg or Getlzaf… hell Ralph is barely even a French.
- That stack of cups in Winnipeg may have been one of the greatest things I have ever seen. That instantly became the best thing to come out of Winnipeg since I headed home from the Banjo Bowl last year.