Riders 31 – Loserpeg 23
Well in what has become a Labour Day tradition I awoke Monday to a pounding head and both my voice and pants were nowhere to be found. In what has become a tradition that likely care a bit more about, the Riders won yet again on Labour Day. It was their 3rd straight win, 3rd straight victory over a west opponent and shoots them right up into the mix for second in the west. It was admittedly an ugly win (unless we are using the Manitoba scale of rating in which case it would rank only behind cousin in attractiveness) but it was a win.
In the first half we were massively outplayed but 3 big plays kept us in it (pick, blocked FG, punt return). We were not playing great on either side of the ball but Winnipeg was unable to capitalize. In the second half we flipped the script a bit. Defense tightened up, allowing just 6 points. Offense finally managed to do something useful and strung some actual scoring drives together. I will tell you that if we only manage to play this well next week in Winnipeg it damn sure won’t be enough but on Sunday it was just enough.
Defense was made to look human for the first time in a while. Andrew Harris was ripping off monster runs with ease in the first half. I get that he is one of the best RBs in the League but I would have thought we would have focused a lot more on shutting down the run than we did. With Mic’hael Brooks out we curiously ran a lot of 3-man front especially on first down. I didn’t care for it. Harris did. Fortunately for us we were able to exploit a big Bomber weakness: Matt Nichols. Dude just is not playing very good football. Even if you take away that first pick (which was a tip ball) he still put up numbers that would have made you think he was playing for Steve McAdoo. Credit to our D-line for getting 3 sacks against a very good O-line (even though they clearly miss Hardrick). Certainly wasn’t their best outing but they got the turnovers, sacks and key stops needed. For the record Gainey was very lucky on that last INT. He was nowhere near in position as the D was too busy celebrating at midfield. Hell of a run and jump but it was a lucky play not skilled defense.
Early in the game I was ready to give up on our offense. Our offense also seemed ready to give up on the idea of moving the ball. It was not good. To their credit they came up with some legit scoring drives in the second half when we needed them. What really got things going is when they finally realized that Thigpen should be the focal point of the O. Use that man’s speed! The other thing we finally did was make a conscious effort to feed Roosevelt the ball. In a tight game there is no one’s hands we should be trusting more. Actually getting him more than a token couple catches a game was greatly needed. I love Kyran Moore. That Punt TD was awesome but even in the offense, he’s a guy I want to see a lot more of. If we can complement the size of our receivers with the speed of Moore and Thiggy good things will happen. I hate Josh Stanford. He consistently shows zero desire or ability to run north south after the catch. He’s always dancing sideways and costing us yards. Can’t tell me we lose anything inserting Bagg for him. I will say this, we trust our receivers. When that ball went up for Lambert late I thought it was an awful idea. Guess that’s why the rye drinking guy in a robe and beard does not call the plays.
It was the second consecutive “gutsy” win. Two weeks now, we haven’t played great and been outplayed at times but still found ways to win. That kind of perseverance will be needed down the stretch.
No matter how they come, I love me Labour Day wins.
Other random thoughts:
- When we have guys like Moore and Thiggy who have actual speed why on earth did we think running the sweep to Evans was a good idea?
- Seriously? No fly by on Labour Day?
- Nick Marshall is lucky we won. All the goodwill he has built up being out TD guy almost disappeared with his untimely big mouth. Shut the F up and get off the field.
- Loved seeing how jacked up all the new guys were during introductions. Mason was jawing across the field. Elam and Blackmon were up in Winnipeg’s face.
- I knew it was going to be a good day when they played “Experience Regina” over the PA system during pre-game. That needs to become a new tradition.
Marshall has been the cure for our 3rd/Goal & short follies. You'd think the 6'5, 230 Bridge would trump 6'1, 207 Marshall but not so. We officially have 2 clipboard carriers in Bridge & Watford. You hit the nail on the head - somewhat lucky in this game. Why did Bombers go away from Harris in the 2nd half with the lead? Our offence got 3 TD's for the 1st time this year but one was a 1 yard drive. There's still a long ways to go but I think our offence has to pick it up. When you top out at 2 TD's per game you only need to look at Reilly who averages close to 3 TD's a game on his own. The Edmonton offence has been seriously out of sync in the 2nd half of the last 3 losses scoring a total of 6 points but I expect them to come around. They've played well vs good teams. This was their 1st loss vs a team with a .500 or better record but they keep getting in their own way. I expect that to change so Riders may need that offence in the West semi & final should they be playing in those games. Who knows how it will end up but Calgary has a good lead on 1st & it sure looks like the Riders will have to play 2 games vs the Alberta squads & all 3 parts of their game have to be clicking if you ask me. But, time to be positive in Riderville. They're rolling right now. Winnipeg pretty much has to win the 2 remaining games at home with the Riders I would think. WIth BC on a stretch heavy with Eastern opponents, the Bombers might find themselves in last place.
Almost bang on with the spread you called. I was thinking the same thing on Rob Bagg vs Stanford. Does Stanford have more physical skill? Yes. But if we are lacking anything right now it's that vet who knows where to find the hole on 2nd down to move the chains and block on the bubble screens. Stanford does try on those blocks but seems to be horrible for the most part at it
For Anon above, Harris looked to get dinged up when Hughes smoked him early in the 2nd half. He was on the bench a lot more than you would expect after that.
Anon - O needs to keep progressing. They aren't there yet but they showed two solid drives when it mattered most. Just need to prove they can do that consistently.
Gov - Yeah Stanford has more physical tools as a receiver but when your job is mainly blocking and turning a 3 yard catch into 5 yards by putting your head down that really doesn't matter.
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