Riders 25 – Stampeders 29
If the Riders don’t ultimately end up hoisting the Cup at the end of the season, this season will be defined as one of missed opportunity. During our losing streak we had opportunities to secure wins in almost every game but let them slip away. That unfortunate trend was on full display in Calgary on Saturday. The defense came out fast and furious and sent the cocky as hell Stamps reeling. We had opportunities to put this game out of reach in the first half… but ultimately could not capitalize. Despite that, we took the lead into the second half and had an opportunity to at worst shut up the Stamps and at best keep our chances of finishing first alive… but the team as a whole let that slip away too. We were told that we brought in all this veteran talent to build a team that would be strong enough to avoid the collapses that killed our young team last season… they are running out of chances to prove that is actually the case.
I was blown away by the intensity and the dominance that the D started the game. Our D-line made a very talented Calgary OL look were imported from Winnipeg. Calgary was the League best at holding onto the ball yet we attacked them for 4 first half turnovers. Now the O was of course unable to capitalize (which I will get to shortly). The second half came though and that defense that seemed it could simply will us to victory fell by the wayside. In an ironic twist, Drew Tate made our D look like the brain dead guys you’d like to punch. Penalties, blown assignments, making Fuller into an instant star, you name it. It wasn’t the level of play we are used to from that unit. To be fair they were likely tired (both from being on the field lots and carrying this team for weeks on end) but to beat a team as Calgary you need to play a full 4 quarters… anything less just won’t cut it.
But hey, at least they put in 2 good quarters… which is more than our offense. Might as well rename them noffense. (Yeah that was a bad attempt at a joke but I figure if they don’t try, why should I?). The problem is its not just one aspect. Receivers are dropping catchable passes, Durant is making bad read (and also seems to have developed some weird eye stigmatism that prevents him from seeing running backs who don’t have defenders within 10 yards of them), and the play calling remains highly questionable. Now far be it from me to try and question the abilities of a reputed offensive genius but here is an example what I see as issues with play calling. Clearly our line was having issues blocking the Stamps and our insistence on trying to keep passing rather than counter the pressure naturally led to…sacks and punting situations. Even more maddening was the fact that on multiple plays we tried to block Charleston Hughes (the best DL in the league) with the likes of Sheets by himself, Dan Clark by himself and air by itself. And there air was likely the most effective at slowing him down. Hughes is a menace so any play that does not involve at least one true O-lineman on him is pure idiocy. I’m made drunken sandwiches at 3am that made more sense than that. We refused to try and counter the pressure with draws and screens (except that one attempted screen where the O-linemen were behind the RB they were supposed to be blocking for). No Sanders to shake things up. No nothing. The problems with this O are multiple and run deep. I only hope we are holding back to blow everyone away in the playoffs with awesomeness we all assumed has passed us by… at this point that’s all I got.
Bottom line is that Calgary is the best team in the league and anything less than a full 6 mins on both sides of the ball. We failed at that and predictably came up short. Disappointing but I guess all we can do now is focus on the West-Semi and beating the Lions
One last thought: Did anyone see what the first penalty on Anderson was? He annoys the shit out of me and I curse him regularly but I honestly didn’t see an infraction for once.