Riders 26 - Argos 30
What you are reading is actually the second version of my sentimonies. I had written a really good post but in true Rider fashion it was negated due to penalty so I had to re-write it and the end result was not as good as the first attempt.
The game was a lot like my love life: lots of excitement but ultimately ended in bitter disappointment. I was left with the same feelings after this game as the first time these two teams met. There was a lot of positive things that happened in that game. Unfortunately, as has been the theme this season, there was too many negative things that happened for all the good we did to be enough. Good teams find ways to win. I've seen many versions of the Riders pull out victories they had no business winning. The opposite is also true. Bad teams find ways to lose. This Rider team just keeps finding ways to lose games that they really should be winning. Toronto's defensive MVP was Rider penalties as it took double digit points off the board and resulted in close to 200 yards in Toronto's favour. A good team would have a hard time winning saddled with that kind of handicap... a bad team like us just had no chance.
Brett Smith looked impressive. He made mistakes like rookies are bound to do but he played his heart out on that field and really looked like he belonged under centre. He extended plays that had no business being extended and kept his eyes down field. He looked like a play maker. After enduring duds like Sunseri and Doege its nice to actually see a back-up come in and play like a pro. It was nice to see us spread the ball around and get guys like Williams and the Space Cowboy involved. It was also nice to see Getzlaf doing considerably less Getzlafing and more catching TDs like the top Canadian receiver he can be at times.
Special teams also gave us a good spark with both Demski and Miller. Admittedly the impact could have been great but, you know, flag on the play.
The defense... well yet again they played a decent game only to collapse late in the game. They allowed two 4th quarter TDs on long passes. We just can't defend the pass... which tends to be a problem in the CFL. We know that none of the Rider defense has a future career as a baker... because they couldn't produce a solitary turnover between all of them. (yes I know that is a bad attempt at humour. I swear I had funnier material in the version of this post that got called back due to penalty.) We did manage to nicely limit Whitaker's production but unfortunately we also pretty much let the Argos get big passing plays on us at will.
There's a lot I could also critic about our coaching but in the interest of not keeping you here all day, I will zero in on one decision that really irked me.
2:51 left in the game, down by 7, 3rd and 5 from the 20 yard line. Now option 1 is to gamble on 3rd down. If you make it great you can keep driving for the tying TD. Worst case scenario you miss it and need a defensive stop and a major score. Option 2 is to kick the FG. Best case scenario you make it and still need a defensive stop and major. We chose option 2 (and done similarly this year) and it made my blood boil. We literally gained absolutely nothing by kicking that FG. Look its not like McCallum is going to catch Passaglia in all-time scoring and since it does not help our odds of winning the game I think its a terrible decision.
The bye week is now upon us and odds are pretty good that chances are coming. I can't say who or how deep the cuts will go but we are a team missing a good chunk of our top players due to injury and starting our 3rd string QB yet neither of those factors were the reason we lost. We are so close yet so painfully far from being a winning team. In 2011 I was embarrassed at how bad we played. This year, the emotion I feel is disappointment (and likely some rye induced rage). We haven't yet proven we are good enough to beat another team... it makes it all the more tougher when you pile on all those penalties and have to overcome yourself as well. The penalty epidemic is getting worse, not improving. At this rate I'm convinced we will find a way to take a penalty and lose a game during the bye week.