Riders 27 - Argos 24
Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sure you're as surprised as I am to find this posted before noon on a statutory holiday. Don't get used to it, it'll probably be years before it happens again.
Saturday the Riders accomplished something in 14 games that it previously took them 2 years to do... win 8 games. In the process they took another big step towards securing a playoff berth. Those some of you may have forgotten based on the bast 2 seasons, playoffs are those games that come after the regular season. The magic number now sits at 2: any combination of Rider wins or BC loses amounting to 2 and we are in.
The game really was the tale of 2 halves. The first half the tale would have been a sad tragedy with multiple curse words in the title. The Argo offense seemed to have our D completely figured out and was moving the ball at will. The Argo defense could have stood still and literally not moved for how useless our offense was. Fortunately the D got things figured out and allowed just 8 points over the final 36 minutes. The offense was sparked by the play of Brandon Bridge who came in a breathed life into an offense that had become a shell of its former self. The result was a second straight come from behind road victory. This one was not ugly but rather a hard fought victory against a very good opponent. Since starting 0-3 on the road the Riders have gone 4-1 away from home.
Let's talk about the defense. Early on it seemed we were so focused on stopping Wilder that we allowed pretty much everything else. Trestman wisely took advantage of that by using guys like Cross, Edwards and Jackson en route to amassing a 13 point lead. From there the defense regained their footing. They were also helped greatly by an offense that managed to stay on the field for more than 2 embarrassing plays per drive. I thought we let a struggling O-line off the hook by not sending near enough pressure but it was used more (and earlier in the game) than last week. A future hall of famer like Ricky Ray won't make many mistakes so taking advantage of the few he makes are a must. Henoc Muamba did just that in securing an interception off a pass Ray should not have thrown. Gotta seize those opportunities to win the close games. As much as I loved that INT hopefully someone on the sidelines slapped him for the decision to pitch it to Gainey. The thought was admirable, the execution damn near caused me a heart attack.
About the nicest thing you can say about Kevin Glenn was that at least he made Trent Richardson's performance seem not so insignificant by comparison. He was awful and excluding the 4th quarter in Ottawa has been awful since returning from his hand injury. I would be willing to give him one more chance at home next week because a disrespected Glenn seems to be the best Glenn (but it would be a very short leash). Whether its the hand or the season wearing on him, we can't tolerate this level of play. Especially when we know what we have in Bridge. The energy level in our O visibly picked up when he came in. Full credit to him that was a very good performance. He was crisp and confident on his passes, consistently finding tight windows.. He used his legs to bye time. Most importantly he moved the ball and found the endzone. I still had some issues with what he did. He clearly has only one look in the redzone. The first one to Roosevelt was great. The second and third time he went back to it, not so much. Gotta expand your options there. Also, I hate hate hated his long bomb to Holley late in the game. We were bailed out by that illegal contact call but it was a bad decision by Bridge. We needed a FG and were on the 48. Even as little as 5 yards could have given Crapigna a legit chance. But instead of putting his head down and running (i think he could have fought for 5-7 yards) or at least looking for a medium option, he throws a hail mary. Poor choice. That said, despite that he played a hell of a game and was the reason we won. I was admittedly not his biggest fan at the start of the year but he keeps proving himself when called upon. Roosevelt being back was huge. He played a huge role and opened things up for Carter and especially Grant a lot more.
The Riders just keep finding ways to win and that is exactly what you want to see from your team down the stretch. Finishing back to back East road games 2 and 0 is huge. The encouraging thing is that we have not seen the Riders play their best football since Labour Day yet they are 3 and 2 in spite of that. This strikes me as a team that has potential to put it all together again and get hot in time for the playoffs.
Just 4 games left and 3 of them are at home.
Other random thoughts:
- Maybe Chris Jones should call out Ed Gainey again. He hasn't looked great over the past 2 and was completely lost on the Green TD. Getting called out by his coach seemed to work pretty good last time.
- Was anybody really expecting anything more from Richardson? It was his first game and we don't really run much. By virtue of not fumbling and not blowing any pass blocks (that I saw) he did his job. Credit to LaFrance for chewing up important yards when the game was on the line.
- Not turning the ball over is a huge thing in these close games. We also didn't allow a big play on special teams. It's nice to see us not hurting ourselves as we had grown accustomed to last season.
- Could have made things easier on ourselves by scoring majors instead of settling for FGs on those two 3rd quarter drives.
- I don't like that Cody Fajardo averaged 6.5 yards on his 2 QB sneaks. When your goal is stop them from getting 1 yard,it pretty bad when you consistently let him go that far.