Riders 25 – Bombers 24
Today marks a first for this blog. It’s the first time I have ever been thankful for anything related to Manitoba (minus the whole “making us look really good by comparison” thing). But I would like to start today off by officially thanking the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for doing everything in their power to ensure we won a game we probably should not have.
There was Shannon Boatman who thought that taking a free shot at Odell Willis was worth sacrificing a big offensive gain for. There was Kenny Mainor who thought that taking Drew Willy on a long jog before delivering a belly to belly suplex roughly 5 minutes after the whistle blew was worth sacrificing the 3rd down that the rest of his D had just forced. And there was Coach Burke who had so little confidence in his kicker that he didn’t even attempt a 40 yard FG with the wind at his back which would have forced the Riders to drive for a TD which we more than likely were not going to get. PS – I’m sure glad that Burke has rectified the lack of discipline that supposedly cost LaPo his job.
In typical Rider fashion, it was a rollercoaster game of ups and down. When Edwards fumbled on their first series I assumed we were in for another stomping. When an errant snap led to Graeme Bell blocking what only barely qualifies as a punting attempt by Milo, I was convinced it just wasn’t going to be our day.
I would like to start with a huge congratulations to our defense. Lost in all the drama was how well they performed. They did not allow a solitary offensive TD, held Matthews in check yet again and did a decent job with Simpson. The way they were playing, had it not been for that Washington punt return TD, I don’t think the end result would have been in doubt past halftime. I really like the play of our 3 DTs (Williams, Alford and Shologan) and was impressed by the game Maze had. Yeah it wasn’t pretty (well to be fair it was probably pretty by local standards) but the D did their job.
Offense was about what you expect when your back-up gets thrust into action early in the game (Willy thrust into action early #potentialwillyheadlines). It was serviceable but it wasn’t about to intimidate anyone. I honestly thought that Willy’s half decent performance would end all the calls for him to supplant Durant as starter... evidently I was wrong. To put this bluntly anyone who seriously thinks that Willy gives us a better chance of winning at this point than Durant is an idiot and evidently watched a different game than me on Sunday.
Yes, Willy did what it took to win and showed a lot of promise but he needs a lot of work yet. What he showed was exactly what you would hope for from a young back-up QB. He came in moved the chains, put up some points, was calm and composed, and stepped up when the pressure was on. But he was also painfully indecisive in the pocket. I’m not sure if he was doing advanced calculus in his head to determine the best option but there were times where they could have gone to commercial break during his reads and not missed anything. He was way too hesitant to run (which is a shame because when he did it worked great), ran backwards for 30 yards on a sack and threw pick. Now these are all very typical rookie mistakes and all very correctable. I was happy with his performance but he showed why he is an excellent back-up and potential starter down the line... he did not show anything that would lead me to believe Durant should sit for any reason but injury. I wish everyone would stop being so infatuated with Willy when we have Double D to get excited about.
Other random thoughts:
- That McHenry TD getting called back was the universe righting itself... no one would ever believe McHenry caught a TD.
- Was anyone else severely panicking when both McHenry and Getz were on the sidelines?... that meant Hargreaves, Bell and Hughes were all we had left on offense for Canadians.
- Jock Sanders is awesome! His only problem is that he is too fast even for his own feet
- 2 games – 2 huge plays for Brooks Foster. Hopefully he gets more involved on O with each passing week
- How about that blocked FG by Mick Williams?!
- How about that end over end tackle courtesy of Collins and Lobendahn?!
- I liked how we used Sheets, the Bombers were stuffing his runs pretty good so we got him the ball through the passing game. Lesson here is the same as every week, good things happen when you get the ball to Sheets
- Someone needs to slap Chris Getzlaf... way too many penalties! He was also the intended target on the Willy INT. Lesson here is the same as every week (well expect last week where he played well), good things rarely come when you throw to Getzlaf. Nice block though.
- O-line had a rough game against a talented and fired up Bomber D-line. Still think we need to do more to help them out (i.e. rollouts, screens, TE sets) especially when you have a rookie in at QB.
- Hope Dressler is OK... check that praying to god Dressler is OK.
It’s been a while since a Rider win took years off my life expectancy but this one surely did. It wasn’t pretty and could very easily have gone the other way but these ugly games are the kind we are going to need to win if we hope to play in late November. They don’t ask how, they just ask how many. We are back at .500 and right in the mix with the rest of the West division... now we just have to show we can win against a team that isn’t a complete and utter trainwreck.