Riders 31 - RedBlacks 20
One down, two to go
Sunday the Riders rolled into Ottawa and handed the defending Grey Cup champs a convincing defeat. Early on it looked like we were in store for a classic CFL shootout but as the game wore on the Riders took more and more control of the game. The end result actually could have been even more lopsided as the Riders missed opportunities for plays on both sides of the ball.
For me, the big story was the offense. They looked awesome. Kevin Glenn was dialed in and played his best game since before he injured his hand. He was calm in the pocket and pin point on his passes. He was aided by an O-line that gave him enough time to do his taxes before having to throw. For whatever reason, the RedBlacks chose to not send pressure (something Glenn has struggled mightily with of late) and instead sit back in a zone (something Glenn picked apart). Curious game planning but Glenn took full advantage. Even when the plays didn't go as planned, luck was on Glenn's side. There was that play where he was running/stumbling for his life and stumbled at the exact right moment to slip harmlessly to the turf as two RedBlacks KOed one another. It also helps when your RB absolutely lights it up. Thigpen was unreal in that game. Even if you exclude that 75 yard run he still damn near cracked 100 and was over 6 yards per carry. His speed and elusiveness were deadly. I'm a big Marshall fan but you can't take Thigpen off the roster at this point. I also thought McAdoo had a good game plan (something I don't say too often). Sweeps, swing passes, runs, getting Carter involved early. The game did not devolve into the shootout it looked like it might but the way the offense was humming I think we could have won even if it did.
The defense started out bad. Our corners both got beat routinely and should have been beat for more yards than they were if Harris was able to connect. That was the worst game I've seen Kacy Rodgers have. But despite the poor start the D turned it around and after that Spencer TD in the first quarter, only allowed 2 FGs until garbage time. A key play was that Eguavoen pick. Not only was that a textbook interception, that was the play that ended the brewing shootout. Jones noticeably dialed up the pressure throughout the game and while it did lead to some long completions, it also lead to sacks and errant throws by Harris. We also managed to take the run game completely out of it (Powell just 8 times, only 2 times in the second half). You'd almost think Steve McAdoo snuck into the RedBlack booth for how much they ignored the run.
Even on special teams we were pulling out all the stops with the sneaky Owens to Jones reverse.
I said before the game that turnovers would be the key and the Riders won that battle 4-1. And on the lone giveaway the D forced a FG and Thigpen went for 75 yards on the next play.
The next game will be a far greater challenge but the way were are playing in all 3 phases I have no reason to doubt this team. God I've missed playoff wins!
Other random thoughts:
- That limbo celebration was pretty outstanding but I have to wonder if it contributed in anyway to Ellingson tweaking his knee later.
- I don't get the "Kevin Glenn gets revenge" narrative. First off that was like 4 years ago. Second, every single non-Edmonton game is a Kevin Glenn revenge game.
- Crezdon Butler is a hell of a player
- For the fake FG to work we actually have to kick an actual FG with Vernon Adams as the holder. The second anyone sees anyone but Bartel set to hold for the FG its a dead giveaway that kicking is not in our plans.
- Still can't get over Rob Black calling Keelan Johnson "the stripper"
- That onside kick was more of a gently pass the ball to Hecht than a legitimate attempt.
Next game is more like a revenge game. Owens was dumped by TO & hasn't forgotten. His comment about the Riders being better than his 2 Grey Cup winners was telling. Then there's Jones' biggest fan, Mr. Lemon, back healthy for TO. We beat Argos twice but Wpg beat Edm twice so what? This is probably going to be a very tough match. Ray is the deserved MOP out East - Argo offence second only to Edm. Argo defence second only to Calgary. The 2 teams tied in sacks, Wynn & Laing are the all-star tackles, Butler the all-star DE & Lemon (8 sacks in 12 games) & Davis are really good too. Ball is healthy again & joins Bear Woods plus they have a couple of all-stars in the backfield. I think the Riders have a good shot but never count out a Trestman team. The last Argo team to win the Cup were 9-9 as well. Lots of people calling Riders to go to the Cup & win but the 3 other teams left are really tough & Glenn has to be on top of his game. As you mentioned, RedB's didn't pressure Glenn. We now have to go through 2 of 3 clubs who have dominant DL's & know how to bring the heat. I think it will be a close game but I have to go with Argos. If it's Jones plan to take Glenn out if he's pressured, I think we'll see Bridge. He's done well but he scares me.
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