Riders 35 - Bombers 30
There are 3 certainties in life: Death, taxes and the Riders beating the Bombers on Labour Day.
Yes there were certainly some anxious moments but in the end the Riders emerged with a victory (their 6th straight) and a share of second place in the West. The Bombers dropped their 3rd game of the last 4 and find themselves squarely in the battle for the crossover spot.
Our offense has been much maligned all season and I'll admit it did not look pretty at times during the game but they put up 4 TDs... and with the way our defense is playing that should be more than enough production to win any week. The run game was strong as always. Messam showed some great hands and Allen just continues to play some great football. I think he is our best all-round back right now. Bagg was once again the go to guy on offense. We tried getting Dressler involved but his best games will be upcoming. It was great to see us rediscover the long ball to Taj at a very crucial point in the game. It was also great that he didn't let that one bounce off him like the impersonation of the world's worst dodge ball player he had been going with all game. For as much criticism as our O takes (much of it deserved), you have to admit that when we need a score, they find a way to get it done.
Defense didn't have as dominant a game as we have become accustomed to but they certainly did their part. If you factor out the poor field position our special teams unit left them in on more than one occasion (I will get to that in a second), they actually did very well. Noticed Peters a couple times in a very positive way. The Bombers managed to somewhat contain Chick (somewhat) but that just meant more space for Foley and George to wreak havoc. Sacks, turnovers, forcing them to concede safeties, week in week out this unit delivers. They weren't perfect but they made the plays they needed too. As a side note though: whatever defense we called on the Willy running TD should be ripped from the playbook, light on fire and peed on to put it out. No D-linemen in the middle, no LBs in the middle. I saw the gaping hole from the second deck (and may have indulged in a few drinks by then), no surprise Willy (who I assume was sober) saw it and took advantage.
Honestly special teams was the only reason the Bombers were in that game. Without that phase of the game we would have won with far less stress and dramatics.There was the ill-advised decision to punt from our end-zone in the wind... which was combined with the even more ill-advised 15 yard no yards penalty. There was a blocked punt (went to the well one too many times on that rugby kick). There was the punt return TD... the third straight week where we allowed a special teams TD. Milo hit the uprights (guy is like magnetically attracted to them I swear). The lone bright spot was Jackson's returns. I was worried before the game about our special teams given how many guys we are missing (Hughes, McHenry, Moore, Regimbald). Doesn't look like we will be getting anyone healthy back in soon so the crew we have will needs to buckle down and get this figured out.
The theme of the 2014 season has been "finding ways to win" and there should be little doubt left that this is a team with the mental toughness and play making abilities to emerge from any situation with a win. For all the talk about how good Winnipeg is, that's 2 games now where we have no performed in at least one of the 3 phases and still won. Lord help them if all 3 phases ever showed up to play. This may the least confident I have seen people be about a 7-2 team... 7 and 2! For all our offseason departures that is damn good.
So now we are left to nurse our Labour Day hangovers, sanitize whatever Bomber fans may have touched in our city (in particular I would double check the livestock) and get ready to head down the highway and do it all again on Sunday. It was great to see Mosaic rocking, it was great to see a game befiting the name "classic" and it was great to beat the Bombers... again.