Riders 37 - Bombers 19
There are 3 certainties in life: death, taxes and the Riders winning on Labour Day. You could probably also add Rider Prophet being hungover on Monday and the Riders having at least one TD called back due penalty to the list but in the interest of brevity we'll just stick with the first 3.
While I'm sure we were all mildly concerned around the time Jerome Messam was epically failing at any attempt to even get close to getting his hands on the ball in that embarrassing attempt at a direct snap, the Riders did eventually recover. The universe righted itself and proved that a Brian Brohm-led team is utterly awful. Honestly, its not like the Riders played dominant football but if Messam hadn't botched that play, the score would likely have been far more lopsided than it actually was. Winnipeg's only majors came as a result of that fumble and late in the game with under 2 minutes. In between there was a whole lot of nothing on Winnipeg's part.
The Demski punt return TD was the spark that finally got the Riders' heads in the game and playing some solid football. For the record Demski damn near DeSean Jacksoned that by throwing the ball away way too soon for my liking. After that play the offense really seemed to get in a rhythm. One thing that really helped was actually deciding to run the ball like we have been screaming for for weeks. In stark contrast to the 3 touches we had been giving him, Messam saw the ball 21 freaking times plus 6 more for the recently freed Anthony Allen. Not surprisingly it really helped our offense chew up the yards. The more I watch Brett Smith the more I think that he is a better QB when he is running for his life then he is when he stands in a clean pocket. Seems when he doesn't have time to think and just reacts, better things happen. You do have to love his effort level. When he runs he's willing to sacrifice his body for yards. That's the kind of QB players will rally around (its in stark contrast to Sunseri who sacrificed his body but generally for sacks as opposed to positive yards). His passing yards are trending up and his mistakes are trending down. Both positive signs for the young QB.
Defense did a great job of keeping Cameron Marshall at bay. As expected, with him taken out of the equation and the Bombers forced to rely on Brohm's arm, the results were a whole lot of nothing. Our pass defense was still pretty soft but at least we were able to tighten up before they got into scoring range. Hell of a game by Andre Munroe! (Though for some reason T George was one of the opitons to vote for for player of the game). There are few things in life as good as a fat fan football celebration. We had good pressure overall for most of the game. Though to be fair Brohm could make me look like Derrell Revis (while wearing my flip flops and a robe).
It was nice to see another team collapse with penalties and poor decisions for once. I almost felt sorry for Bomber fans when penalties kept extending that one drive because I have lived that nightmare many times this season. The I remembered that its Labour Day and to hell with Bomber fans.
One thing I was happy with was the return of sanity and logic to our coaching decisions. We declined a penalty and took a sure FG rather than risking doing it over again from closer. We went for 2 when it made sense. We didn't challenge ridiculous plays just because we can. The only call I really didn't like was the sweep to Bagg on the goal line for the TD. That one worked out for us but I still hate the call. Run forward!
It was great to finally get a win and relieve some of the pressure on this team. I took great joy in celebrating this win like many did. That said, let's keep this in perspective: we are 1 and 9 and our only win came against the worst team not named the Riders. This means we won't go winless and will likely lead to a few more wins but those still talking about playoffs obviously indulged in more celebratory drinks than me (and that's quite a feat).
Other random thoughts:
- I was sceptical about how the card stunts would turn out (especially when there was 11 step instructions for how to hold a piece of paper over your head) but that looked awesome for both the Bring Em Out and the Canada flag.
- Bubble soccer is the second best half time show ever after mascot soccer!
- The fact that Matt Webster is starting at safety while Keenan MacDougall is relegated purely the special teams says to me that MacDougall may not be the calibre of player we thought he could be when we signed him. He's a good teams guy but I'm starting to doubt he will ever take the next step as a regular presence on the D.
- Alex Hall has like no personality. He was a step away from making Marshawn Lynch look talkative in that Kids Correspondent segment.
- I saw a Bomber fan wearing a Feoli-Guidino jersey... Seriously man? I realize that there hasn't been much to cheer for in Winnipeg for a while but there has to be better than Feoli-Gudino.