Riders 26 – Als 30
Friday’s loss to the Alouettes surprisingly didn’t induce the rage filled rantings that normally fill the Prophet household following a Rider loss. Part of that may have been the fact that I was drinking beer instead of rye like I usually do… I don’t know I’m not a doctor (though I have claimed to be one a time or two). But I think the main reason I wasn’t the angry ball of rage-ahol I normally am was that overall, I don’t we played all that bad. We went toe to toe with the best team in the CFL, on their turf, with a QB at less 100% and had a chance to win it despite spotting them a big lead early. Sure there was numerous bad decisions and boneheaded plays (seriously the pitch to Cates’ back that got picked was something to behold) but we showed that we are good enough to contend with the top team in the league and at the end of the day, I can live with that.
When the game opened with a 2 play, 89 yd TD play followed by a bad INT two plays later deep in our own end, I was mildly concerned. And by mildly concerned I mean I had visions of a blowout beginning to take shape. But to their credit, the Riders rallied and made a game of it. I mean when you look at it, we completely dominated the Als defensively in the second half. If it weren’t for the fact that we keep spotting them big leads I think we could have had 2 convincing wins over them this season.
For me the TSN turning point (that ironically was not TSN’s turning point) was the missed FG that was returned for a TD. That was a 10 point swing and if Congi makes that we win. A 42 yd FG should be very makeable (screw up spellcheck! It’s a word if I say it is). I like Congi but he needs to step up. He’s automatic inside the 40 but when he gets beyond that you’d swear Alexis Serna snuck his way onto our team. He’s already missed 4 from beyond 40, two of which have been returned for TDs. He needs to get better… and grow a moustache. I will not give up my Congi moustache campaign until he caves.
Another area we need to improve on is mixing up our play calls. I expected a more aggressive, passing based attack with Berry calling the shots but I think the pendulum swung too far that direction. I know we were playing catch-up early but even when the game was close we tried long passes almost exclusively. We only gave Cates 5 rushing attempts (despite the fact that on 2 of those 5 attempts he busted it for 15 yds) and rarely attempted any short to medium passes (especially in the red zone). I like being aggressive through the air but there needs to be some balance.
Some other random thoughts on the game:
- I think the Als retro jerseys are awesome. They look very dapper.
- Eddie Johnson’s moustache is outstanding! (Congi… take notes)
- Cates had a couple uncharacteristic brain farts. One was the penalty he took for hitting the Als defender (which ultimately led to the missed FG that cost us the game). He probably would have got away with the first swing but the second one sealed his fate. The other was that drop in the dying seconds of the game. That was heartbreaking.
- I thought our D-line (especially the interior) had a good showing. Shologan looked pretty impressive on a couple of his bull rushes.
- Defense stepped up big time in the second half… now if they could only do that in the first quarter, we’d be set.
- If that’s what Durant can do while dealing with bad intestines I think we’ll be fine.
- That said his decision to throw that ball that eventually led to his 2nd pick was a bad one. To be fair, even though it was a bad decision, Fantuz should have caught it.
- How gruesome was Calvillo’s finger when (in a move fitting for the venue) it tried to separate from the rest of his hand?
- How funny was it that shortly after the camera showed us Calvillo’s mangled finger, we get Sara Orlesky telling us that Calvillo has a suspected injured index finger? That’s some quality reporting Sara.
Despite the fact that we lost a game when we had the chance to win, I still think you have to look at the bigger picture. We are 4-2, only 1 game back of first, managed to split our season series with the best team in the league and played well in a losing effort. That all bodes very well for the rest of the season.