Riders 20 – Lions 16
If you had told me before the game that the outcome of the game would hinge on an O-lineman making a diving catch on pass thrown by Sunseri, I would have started sobbing uncontrollably. Turns out that was just one of the many plays (though certainly the most spectacular) that defined a total team win.
What impressed me most was out mental toughness. The game started in about the worst way possible: huge kickoff return, FG, bad offensive series, punt returned for a TD. Boom! Quicker than the Blue Jays fell out of the wild card race we were down 10, on the road. Would have been easy to crumble there… but they didn’t. They kept fighting and clawed their way back into the game. The 2nd half also started in about the worst possible way. Sunseri forced into action, throws a beauty long bomb to a wide open receiver who drops it, then Allen drops the next pass and we punt. Would have been easy to let that series erase any momentum we gained and be the beginning up the end… but it wasn’t. The team simply refused to give up. They buckled down and fought hard until the clock expired. They emerged from a tough place to play with a hard fought victory because they didn’t let the myriad of bad things that happened affect them. Full credit to that locker-room and that coaching staff because a team this mentally is going to be hard to beat any week.
Beyond just mentally tough, this game also proved that we are a physically tough team. After getting embarrassed by Harris in week 1, we responded by completely shutting down the run game, only allowing 56 yards rushing to a very good running team. On the other side we imposed our will in the running game, racking up over 200 yards rushing against a very good front 7. We won the battle in the trenches and not surprisingly that led to victory.
It was also a game redemption. After a week of heavy criticism (some of it from yours truly), Milo responded by nailing 40+ yard kicks all night long. After finding his ass firmly attached to the bench, Anthony Allen stepped up big in the absence of Messam. He was the big punishing back we needed. After a preseason which made us doubt his ability to step up when needed, Tino Sunseri stepped up and did what was needed to lead us to victory.
Every did their part, everyone kept fighting, everyone shares in this victory... though let's be honest, the heart and soul of this team right now is that defense. They haven't allowed a TD in 2 full games.
It may not have been the prettiest path to get here but 6-2 is a very good record and better than I thought this team would be at this point. Up next is the Labour Day Classic... time to start prepping my liver. I would also recommend making sure your vaccinations are up to date, there's no telling what our neighbours to east my bring to town with them.
Other random thoughts:
- Our special teams cover unit struggled but I think a bit part of that is the hit our depth is taking. Neal Hughes, Sam Hurl and Spencer Moore were already out and then Regimbald and McHenry on top of that. That is a huge blow to our playmakers on teams.
- Not sure how close Neal Hughes is but he can play Labour Day if healthy and we could really use him. I also wonder if we put a call into Daryl Stephenson again.
- Another turnover free game
- I still think Anthony Allen is the best receiver of any of our RBs.
- It's crazy how well timed those full sprint blitzes of Brackenridge are
- Still can't get over that Clark TD, there are receivers half his size who could not have made that catch.