Riders 30 - Alouettes 24
Well that was certainly unexpected. I had become so used to losing I just kinda took for granted we would lose again. Death, taxes and the Riders losing, three certainties in life. Apparently unless the Riders play the Alouettes. I would like to point out that the Als needed 8 wins to clinch the first ever eastern crossover. They have 6... 2 short. If they had managed to defeat the lowly Riders (like every other non-Brian Brohm led team did) they would have been in the postseason. I realize that given the lowly state of the Riders, I'm in not much of a position to beat other teams but man Montreal sure sucks.
As we mounted our big comeback in the 4th I found myself wrestling with 2 conflicting desires. 1 being for the Riders to win, the other being for that meaningless game between to bottom feeding teams not to go on any longer. I'm sure OT in that situation topped lots of people's lists of wants.
Keith Price didn't exactly look stellar... though if he had an O-line that actually decided to block somebody (you know like reputable pass rushers such as Bowman and Knapton), I bet he would have looked better. Also, bear in mind that Brandon Bridge got to look good against our god awful defense. Price had to play an actual pro-level defense. Every QB looks good against us, Price probably looked like the second coming of Flutie while running scout team in practice. I still like what I see from Price and hope he's back in camp next year battling for #2. He needs to work on things (like reading an all out blitz and throwing the ball quickly before he gets killed).
When it comes to intangibles, how can you not love Brett Smith. The guy just flat out makes things happen. Three TDs and 40 yards rushing would be a decent game. Smith did it in a quarter plus one drive in OT! He's rough around the edges fundamentally but he just seems to find a way to make plays. He's improved a lot since he was forced into action earlier this year. It would be huge if he could come in next year and lock down the #2 spot. Plus if we don't address our porous O-line this offseason then his mobility might be about our only chance.
Other guys I noticed in a positive way:
Anthony Allen - ran hard all day, also somehow turned a poor snap on a fake punt into a positive play
Ryan Smith - big day for him
Don Unamba - made some plays, me noticing him might just be a product of his average play looking great as compared to the rest of secondary
I won't give a full list of people I noticed in a negative way as that we take more typing on my part and reading on your part then I'm sure we'd both care to invest at this point. We won three games this year... that means lots of people suck. Below is just a list of people who really stood out.
Marshay Green - Any play directly involving him only has three possible outcomes: badly missed tackle, penalty, or really obvious penalty followed by a hissy fit.
Defense in general - have I mentioned before how bad we are at pass coverage or run stopping?
O-line - I get that heavy blitzes like the Als were running will result in unblocked defenders but those should not be in the inside guys... all the time.
Stephen Houston - Last week I asked to see more. I got my wish and was disappointed.
And thus mercifully ends just a terrible year of Rider football. While this win is mostly devoid of meaning and by no means makes up the
crap we've endured this season, its still nice to end the season on a
winning note. Bring on the offseason, it means we can't lose anymore and hopefully that the needed steps to bring this team back to competitiveness will begin to take place.