Riders 25 - Esks 33
During the first half of the game on Friday I began mentally composing this morning's sentimonies. Needless to say it was shaping up to be a profanity-laden rant lamenting the level of utter crap this team has been reduced to. Fortunately in the 3rd quarter the Riders showed that they were actually still able to play football at a professional level. There are no moral victories and losing (again) sucks but that 3rd quarter breathed some much needed life into a team that was getting harder to stomach with each passing week, even for the most diehard of fans.
My dog leaves more appetizing things in my back yard than what the Riders offered up in the first half. The defense seemed to have sunk to new lows (wouldn't have thought that was possible). On the first TD, Reilly literally jogged leisurely to the sidelines while all our d-line failed to get close to him (save for Criswell who finally got to him in time to take a penalty for hitting him out of bounds). He then threw to a wide open Walker (why bother covering him?). They were even making basic mistakes like failing to keep contain. Offensively, there was essentially 1 positive play and that's where Durant said F-it and willed himself to a first down... and promptly left the field with an injury. It was at this point I began mentally calculating how much more booze I'd need to endure the night (the answer was "a lot more").
Then in a stunning turn of events, the Riders (who have been notoriously atrocious in the 3rd quarter) emerged with a fire in their belly and put up 16 unanswered points. We were all left wondering where in the hell that came from. Aggression, risk taking, confidence, defensive stops, running plays. Hell McAdoo finally cashed in on all those idiotic runs by the back-up QBs and let Bridge throw. Nobody saw that coming (I mean sure he threw into double coverage and Roosevelt bailed his ass out but beggar's can't be choosers). I did love the irony of them following up the big pass play by going right back to the idiotic back-up QB run. We desperately needed a quarter like that. Admittedly a big part of that quarter was the fact that the D was barely on the field but given how awful our O has been it was great to see they still had some firepower.
The 4th quarter was fairly mediocre but at least it was mildly competent play as opposed to the poor excuse for football they turned in during the first half. The O cooled off a bit but did still manage to score. The D remembered that they aren't all that good though they weren't completely useless. We lost but we finished with our heads held high fighting until the bitter end... a welcome reprieve from previous games where we just lied there and took it.
Actually winning would have been ideal but the mood across Rider Nation is decidedly more hopeful after that second half performance than it has been in many weeks. Hopefully we can carry over that momentum into Labour Day.
Other random thoughts:
- Really noticed increased pressure from the defense. Both in terms of scheme and players getting push. The only downside is that we seemed to have no ability to actually make a play on the QB or RB dspite the pressure... but hey, baby steps.
- Gotta feel for Durant. Between a second rate O-line (who all struggled) and receivers not making plays (or running the wrong routes) he certainly doesn't have much help. He's used to having Labatte (one of the best OL in the CFL) blocking from him. This week he had Matt Vonk (who looked like he was wearing roller skates instead of cleats)
- Holley had another good game... and showed more toughness than last week
- Defense should probably work on tackling. I realize that being in a position to make a tackle is a relatively new concept but actually making the tackle is indeed the next progression.