Riders 21 - Argos 25
Months and years from now when we look back on the 2017 season it will be viewed as a successful year. We went from a train wreck in 2016, overcame a 2-6 start and came within 1 score of a Grey Cup appearance. We went from basement dweller to legitimate contender. But for now in the days following the East Final we can only feel great disappointment and a as if a big opportunity was missed.
Let me get a couple things out of the way before proceeding:
1 - If you think our defense cost us the game, you're an idiot
2 - If you think the refs cost us the the game, you're an idiot
3 - If you actually think there is some kind of anti-Rider conspiracy you're... you guessed it, an idiot.
With that out of the way, onto the game...
That game was 3 quarters of misery followed by a 4th quarter than was a roller coaster of emotion from the highest of highs, to pretty low (given our history of heartbreak you can't even put that game among the top 10 in disappointments). I went from cheering so enthusiastically that animals and small children got scared to cursing so prufusely that said small children learned some new new words (It's ok, they weren't my kids). On one side of the ball we were playing some of the best football you will see. On the other, I'm not even sure what we were doing could be considered football... until the 4th quarter.
I can't say enough about the job the defense did. We should have been pummeled by the Argos but the D somehow kept us in the game. They forced 3 turnovers, they kept Wilder largely in check, they kept SJ Green a non-factor. They did all this while receiving not only zero support from their O but having their O actively working against them. Yeah they couldn't get the stop they needed on that final drive but there is no way you can fault them. They played their asses off and were the only reason we had a chance.
Offense started great with a nice drive for a FG. Then there was about 40 minutes where it was like watching flashbacks of Michael Bishop's '08 playoff game or Kerry Joseph's '14 playoff game. Kevin Glenn decided to be the crappy, playoff choking version of Glenn, and was intent on ensuring every Argo defender had a reception. It was weird because when we pulled him the first time I was pissed because I didn't think he was doing that bad yet. Bridge came in and was equally terrible (though in a less "here Toronto, take the ball" kind of way). Glenn came back in and well I'm actively trying to repress that part of the game with rye. Something clicked in the 4th and Bridge finally put a drive together but it was a matter of too little too late. For me, the creativity of last week's O was gone. No sweep to Owens, no screens against pressure, lackluster run game, forgetting Duron Carter existed for the 2nd and 3rd. We knew coming in that the Argos would get pressure and still seemed powerless to do anything about it until too late in the game. You can't win a playoff game when you don't play offense for 3 quarters. Feels an appropriate time to break out this timeless Mo Lloyd quote from 2008: "You can play against the deaf, blind and the homeless and you will never win a game with (seven) turnovers''
Man is Christion Jones electric! As much as I knew there was a ton of time left on the clock, I so thought he'd stolen the game for us.
As I said, we will eventually look be back and be proud of the steps we took in 2017. But it's a bitter pill to swallow knowing that even 1 more quarter of quasi-respectable offense and we are likely still playing football. Oh well. We walk off with our heads help high, knowing that even though it wasn't our best game, we still fought tooth and nail until the final whistle. I bet bosses across the prairies are happy, productivity just avoided a cataclysmic drop.
Thanks to all for another great season. I love the interaction on Twitter and in the comments (even those idiots who say I have green tinted glasses when I predict the Riders to lose, entertain me). Stick with me through the offseason as I'll have coverage of the Grey Cup and all the offseason goings on. Not to mention a ton of filler posts to keep you entertained over the dreary winter break.
Other random thoughts on the game:
- Chris Jones is the model of consistency. +30 or -20... same outfit. I wonder if he only has one shirt or a closet with like 20 of the same shirt?
- When I lamented Bradbury being named our ref, I got a ton of "at least its not Proulx" from folks on the interwebs. I realize I'm in the minority but I think Proulx is a damn good ref. I'll be starting a fan club complete with T-shirts next season. I fully realize no one will by the shirts since its essentially like wearing a kick me sign but its the thought that counts.
- I get that it wasn't blatant but I still don't understand how that wasn't roughing the passer on the pick 6. I've seen less contact on a QBs head get called. By the way I get the irony of being mad at Bradbury for not throwing a flag.