Riders 41 – BC 38
There are 3 ways of doing things in life: the easy way, the hard way and the Rider way… which is a variation on the hard was but is infinitely harder, more emotionally draining and so complex that even if you had a map, your own personal sherpa and a well drawn diagram, you will still likely get lost at some point. I’ve always figured that some day I will die in those stands. Yesterday was almost that day. Since we can’t just be happy with doing things the easy way, we were forced to endure a marathon roller coaster ride that 4 out of 5 doctors would likely say is harmful to your physical well being. I honestly have no idea how our geriatric coaching staff manages to survive these things.
You know if it wasn’t for that fact that I was so emotionally invested in this game, it actually would have been an exciting game to watch. Lead changes, late comebacks, final second heroics, it had it all.
The game started out eerily similar to the ’08 West-Semi. Defense doing a good job of keeping us in the game, offense failing to get anything going. The fact that we spotted them a 9 point lead didn’t really phase me much (I’ve gotten used to this team not starting to play until they are down a couple scores). What did cause me concern though was our sputtering offense. We were calling the right plays, receivers were running good routes and getting open… and Durant was sailing pass after pass over them. It was as if he subconsciously thought that the entire team was wearing stilts and arm extenders and adjusting his passes accordingly. The game could have easily been a blowout in our favour if he had connected on a couple of those passes (such as the one to a wide open Fantuz). Fortunately, while Durant wasn’t helping our cause, he also wasn’t hurting it. He didn’t turn the ball over which kept the game close and when it mattered most he stepped up and got the job done.
So do you think Weston Dressler was a little fired up for this game? After being forced to watch last year’s playoff run from the sidelines, he played this game like a man possessed… possibly by performance enhancing drugs. Despite being the smallest man on the field, he was ploughing through defenders and simply wasn’t going to be stopped. It’s pretty inspiring to see a midget fight off an army of defenders and carry a couple of them for extra yards.
Say what you want about Wes Cates but he always plays his best football when it matters most. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, I thought he had a great game. He ran well, made some outstanding catches and managed to turn a desperation dump by Durant from certain lost yards into a huge gain and almost broke it for a TD.
And of course how can you not love that Jason Clermont’s first TD as a Rider sealed the win. Dressler and Fantuz may be get the most attention and the most accolades but when its clutch time you know you can count on #82 to deliver. Glad to see him finally cross the goal line because few are as deserving and hard working as Clermont.
Defensively I thought they started out great. They were fired up and making plays. McCullough did a solid job of patrolling the middle in Simpson’s absence. Line was getting good pressure most of the time. And Lance Frazier stepped up big time racking up 2 sacks, a forced fumble and an INT. Unfortunately we didn’t finish quite as strong. We had many chances to end them game well before the 2nd OT but we just kept failing to make plays. Our cornerbacks are not very good. Leron Mitchell has speed to burn but seems to have absolutely zero football sense. He doesn’t really cover receivers so much as run around really fast hoping that he ends up inadvertently getting in the way of the pass (Whatever happened to Donavan Alexander?). And Omarr… while I will never question the man’s heart or effort, I will question his coverage skills. He needs to be better because the teams we have left to play this postseason have better receivers than BC. But we win as a team and lose as a team and the defense did enough to get the job done, no sense dwelling on the negatives.
By the way, did anyone notice the play where Jerell Freeman dropped back to play free safety? While it was weird to see, given who our D Coordinator is I can’t say I was surprised.
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you special teams for turning in an adequate performance. That was all I wanted and you delivered. Yonus Davis was a non-factor for the most part and while we didn’t have much in the way returns, we at least managed to secure the ball… not surprisingly this led to a victory. That said I’d be lying if I said I was confident in our FG kicking. In that 2nd OT when Koch dropped the ball on 1st down, I all of the sudden realized that if we didn’t make this next pass that the season would come down to needing to make a 42 yd FG… this of course caused me great worry. If it had actually come down to that, I’m pretty certain that it would have been enough to push my heart over the edge. Fortunately it never came to that, and hopefully it doesn’t ever come to that.
There is nothing better than the atmosphere at Mosaic for a playoff game. The intensity of the crowd (at least those of us who cared enough to buy a ticket to the game) is completely off the hook. It was so loud in the there that I don’t know why they even bothered with the entrance music, nobody heard it. And the crowd didn’t let up even hours later in the 4th and OT when they were needed it most. There were multiple procedure and time count penalties caused by the raucous crowd. I’m partially deaf, can barely speak and my arms are still sore but it was worth every penny.
At the end up the day, that was playoff football. Two good teams going toe to toe in a knockdown drag out fight that goes down to wire. Hats off to the Riders for never giving up, the games won’t get any easier but if we can show that kind of resiliency every time we step on the field, we will be a tough team to beat.Rest up and recover Rider fans because we get to do it all again in 6 days