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.