Riders 30 - Stamps 7
Hands up if Friday went exactly as you expected. OK those of you with your hands up are bold face liars (and also look ridiculous with your hand up because of something someone on the internet told you). The Riders going into Calgary and handing the the Stamps their first loss at McMahon in the regular season in 2 years and doing by a 3 score margin was not what anyone expected. Especially when you factor in the drama of this week and the whole, playing our best WR at CB for the first time in his career thing. It was for me, the biggest win of this season. It was amazing. (Side note: the last team to beat the Stamps in Calgary just so happened to go on to win the Grey Cup. And their coach just so happened to be Chris Jones).
99.9% of the narrative following the game was Duron Carter. And why not? It's an amazing story. Plus that pick 6 alone is one of the sweetest feelings in the world. If you could bottle that up and save it you could sustain my happiness for years. But for me this win was about way more than Duron. This was a total team effort, with all 3 phases contributing in huge ways. Duron got the headlines but 43 other guys and our coaching staff deserve a ton of credit as well.
Offensively, they inexplicably did everything I asked for. I mean the first few plays where our offense seemed to be based on Josh Stanford was a bit concerning but after we got past that we correctly pulled sitting duck Glenn for mobile Bridge. Our running backs ran the ball 24 times. That is not a typo. 24 f'n times (i.e. more than McAdoo has run in the past month). The first drive of the second half was a thing of beauty even though we only got an FG. We consistently ran on first down and consistently had 2nd and manageable and were able to convert (imagine that?). Cam Marshall's return was obviously huge. It just seems McAdoo trusts him and runs a lot more as a result. Even Richardson did well running the ball. If you exclude those 2 picks (one of which was Stanford's fault, one of which was just ugly) the offense did a good job. Not a great job but the way the defense was playing they realized they didn't have to take unnecessary risks and did exactly what they needed to to be successful.
The defense just held one of the league's top offenses without a TD for a second straight time! Calgary had chances in the first half they failed to capitalize on. Wrong routes, drops overthrows. We played solid but we're a bit fortunate. That second half though, we were dominant. We sent pressure and that pressure actually got to Bo. We asserted our will on a very good offense. I actually thought Calgary had a poor game plan. They said they wouldn't specifically target Duron and didn't... and probably should have. I also though they should have run Williams more than Messam. But the bottom line is our defense locked it down. Very impressive.
Special teams was a factor. Jones was electric yet again and is getting great blocking. Punts and coverage was solid. I almost don't want to type this for risk of jinxing things but Crapigna has only missed 4 kicks all season. Dude is solid and we are lucky to have him.
We clinched a playoff berth which is great but was pretty much a certainty, the bigger thing is we proved we can beat anyone. After two seasons of getting killed by west teams we have now beat every single west team and have a winning road record. I say we finish strong and aim to go through the West. We have confidence now and that is a dangerous asset. Wins are always sweet but beating Bo and the Stamps is that much sweeter.
Other random thoughts:
- While completely unnecessary, cursing Henry Burris is a great way to endear yourself to Rider Nation.
- Between the Rider defenders beaking Bo after the pick and Chris Carter piling on on Twitter. That pick 6 was the gift that kept on giving
- How have opposing defenses not figured out that every Vernon Adams play is him keeping and running? It's not hard to figure out.