Riders 30 – Eskimos 27
I won’t lie the way that game started I was worried we were in for trouble. It wasn’t so much how we were playing as the fact that every down seemed to result in a Rider limping off the field. Anderson, Riley, Clark and worst of all Fulton were all down before my first beer. Scared the crap outta me. Fortunately everyone but Riley managed to return and take part in a darn good football game.
Before I get to the game, let me just get this out of the way because a lot of people are talking about it. That was clearly a headshot by Brown on Reilly. Had the same thing happened to Durant there would have been such a public outcry that it would have simultaneously crashed the internet, phone system and (because we are somewhat still in the stone ages) the mail system. Brown might was well start making his cheque out to Mark Cohon. I don’t think Brown was headhunting or anything but still. What amazes me more is how the refs missed it. They managed to see little stuff like hits a bit too low or a split second too late but fail to see (or hear) a helmet smacking the head of the QB they claim to be protecting?? Unbelievable.
That said, that play was not the reason the Esks lost. And to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.
The Esks lost because Darian Durant was dialed in and Kory Sheets was… well Kory Sheets. Like I said in my pregame write up, without a torrential downpour the Esks D can’t keep the score under 30. Odds were better that the Bombers would end a game with the same QB they started with. The lack of a passing TD masks how good of a game Durant had. He made great decisions and moved the ball. Had we scored a TD on 1 or 2 of those FG drives in the first half it would have been a completely different game. I was happy with how Durant played particularly after his struggles last week. Helps when Sheets just imparts his will on a team in the second half and the O-line parts the seas for him to do so. The Esks have the worst run D in the League and we took full advantage. I love that we don’t give up on the run even when it gets stuffed early.
Defensively I was not so impressed but in the end they did what they needed to do to secure the win. Reilly is a good QB and he tries his ass off for that franchise. It’s a shame they don’t feel the need to block for him or stop him from taking a shit-pummeling. That variation on the zone read where Reilly runs up the middle really through us for a loop. As expected, Stamps caused trouble (hey it’s not like many other teams manage to stop him either). That first TD was obviously a breakdown of epic proportions. Stamps should be doubled at all times yet somehow he ended up not covered at all 10 yards past our DBs (guess they all thought Matt Carter was due). The Koch TD was another breakdown. We blitzed the house and were clearly in man on the backside. But 2 DBs bit on Stamps leaving Koch wide open. Can’t freelance like that in man with no help over top. The other Stamps TD was just a damn good catch. So it was a combination of breakdowns and just damn good catches (i.e. Henry, Koch) that caused our problems on D. But that’s just pro football. You’re gonna come up against that kind of adversity and need to fight through. And that’s what the D did… once again making plays when it mattered most. Room for improvement as always but they got the job done.
For the second week in a row the Riders had to dig deep and fight hard to the end to get the win but I think it’s good they are repeatedly proving they can do that. Down the stretch and in the playoffs it’s these kind of games we are gonna need to win if we want to be in the Cup. Blow outs may be easier on my heart but learning how to win the hard ones is what will set this team up for success when it matters most.
The Riders are off to a 7-1 start, something I have never seen in my lifetime. Celebratory drinking is up and downing sorrows in booze is down. Life is as good as it gets here in Riderville… well that’s not entirely true. Next up is Labour Day!!
Other random thoughts
- The composure Dressler showed while causally turning a juggled ball into an improbable gain is just ridiculous.
- I’m far from an Anderson fan but that was a well-played pick on Stamps.
- Given how craptastic their OL is, maybe the Esks should switch Marshall and his D-line to offense. They have shown a knack for enabling the run game and keeping the QB upright.
- For it being his first game, I noticed Brian Peters in on a number of defensive snaps.
- In a game that good, it amazes me how Black and Suitor felt the need to go off on tangents like the giant speaker shadow or Rocky.
- Check that… it should never maze anyone that either of those 2 go off on useless tangents.
- 7 and 1… it’s just so great I want to keep saying it.
Edmonton was due for a victory after losing so many close ones. The Rider's were coming off an 'ugly' win and I had a gut feeling would have some trouble at Commonwealth Stadium. The Riders know how to win. I think I've underestimated the hunger in their souls this season. Go Riders!
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