Riders 27 – Als 24
Its amazing leading up to the game it was pretty much universally assumed that the Riders were going to lose the game, yet once the game was over there were a remarkable number of people claiming that they knew the Riders would win. Riigghhhttt.
I am decidedly not in that group. I had our odds of winning somewhere around the same as the odds of Amy Winehouse making it to her 30th birthday (too soon?). But of course these are the Riders and this franchise has a long history of blowing games we should win and then turning around and winning games we have no business winning. It’s as engrained in our history as telethons and pant-less mascots.
The one major thing I saw that was the biggest factor in our victory was effort. The players came out fired up, played with heart and give it their all, something that was lacking over our first 3 games. I don’t really like seeing Makowsky take a penalty after the whistle or seeing Durant get creamed because he refuses to go down but to me that shows that at least the players care and that they are giving it their all. And low and behold when we play with intensity our overall level of play improves to where we can compete with the best in the league again. Go figure.
I have been fairly hard on Richie Hall so far for his sad sack (or make that no sack) defense but he stepped it up yesterday. Obviously knocking Calvillo out early made the defense job easier but I was impressed with their play even when Calvillo was in there. We were getting pressure, forcing incompletions and most importantly getting a number of 2 and outs. When you can hold the Als to just 10 points in the first half you know you are playing well. Even Sean Lucas (who I have also been none to kind to) stepped things up. That catch he made on the interception was pretty damn impressive. This leads me to wonder, where the hell this has been all season?!? The thing I can deduce is that clearly it was all Tad Kornegay’s fault J
Offensively I was convinced that somebody had rewired the headsets because clearly that wasn’t Berry calling those plays. Then I saw him later in the game complaining about his headset not working… turns out I was right. The whole offense was a complete 180 from what we’ve seen so far this year. Durant was using his legs, we established a run game, we showed some creativity, we platooned Cates and Charles… hell even Chris Getzlaf showed some uncharacteristically reliable hands. Again where has this been all season? It is really that hard to figure out that our offensive production increases proportional to the amount of time Durant is mobile in a game? Durant only threw for 177 (most of which came on one play) but when you add in a mobile QB and a strong ground then all of a sudden there isn’t that same reliance on Durant throwing for 300.
One note on the Cates/Charles platoon. While it’s a great strategy and one I think that is long overdue, there needs to be some guidelines around its use. Firstly when you are inside the 5 you should send out the big strong guy to try and power it in rather then the little quick guy who will have no room to run (also going empty backfield on 2nd and goal is stupid! Especially when you are relying on Dinwiddie to make the pass. At least have an RB in backfield so defense think there is a remote possibility we might run). Guideline #2: When the game is on the line put the big strong sure handed guy in not the little guy with a history of fumbles (that one should be obvious but apparently not). Simply put that was a ridiculously stupid coaching decision. Run Cates twice, if you don’t get the first down punt and Als have a long field and 20 seconds to put up 10 points.
But rather than dwell on the few mistakes we did make, let’s focus on the great team effort turned in by the team in the face of great adversity. The team believed in themselves when very few others believed in them. Let’s not get too excited here though. We are still a 1-3 team and have lots of room to improve. Let’s not do the predictable Rider fan bipolar switch and go from borderline suicidal “won’t win a game” talk to parade route panning “we’re the best again” talk overnight. I’m happy with the win and the progress the team made but we still have a long way to go.
Other random thoughts…
- If Craig Butler gets fined for a helmet to helmet hit, Dwight Anderson better be facing some supplemental discipline for gouging Dressler’s eye. Last time I checked, the CFL hadn’t adopted any pro wrestling rules that would okay such a move… but if they did someone better give Jerrell Freeman a chair for next game (now that would be awesome).
- Did anyone else see that feature they did on the kid featured on the Stamps’ “Game Face” promotion? What the hell kind of face was that on those billboards?!? Clearly it wasn’t a game face. Looked a lot more like a “taking a poop” face. Of course given how the Stamps shit the bed, maybe that is what the game face is in Calgary.
- I know that teams have realized that injuring Buck Pierce is the key to beating the Bombers but they should think about being a bit less blatant when they are hitting him late. First the Stamps now the Argos. And it’s not even like you need to resort to late hits to cream Pierce. He plays so recklessly that there will plenty of legal opportunities to lay a big hit on him.
- Way to go Dalton Bell, after over a year of being forced to sit on the bench while Cleo Lemon embarrasses himself, you finally get a chance to prove yourself and choke. Given Barker’s overt love of Lemon (which is not yet at Maccioccia – Maas levels but getting closer) you might as well get used to holding a clipboard.