Riders 34 - Als 29
If time machines existed and I could go back and have conversation with myself on Friday here's how it would go:
Me: So do you want to know how the game goes?
Past me: I don't know. Do I?
Me: Well I won't ruin it but I will tell you that we allow Manziel to pass for 2 TDs.
Past me: That's not good. But our defense scores right?
Past Me: Special Teams?
Me: No. In fact the Riders will need to rely on their offense to win the game.
Past me: Well $^%&&*
Me: Specifically they will need to score 4 offensive TDs or we lose.
Past me (openly weeping): I'll bet everything I have against the Riders
Me: You really shouldn't bet with a guy who has seen to future.
Past me: You might be right. OK before I bet you, do we win the turnover battle?
Me: No we lose that 2-0
Past me: Double or nothing on the Alouettes
Having watched every Rider game of 2018 I'd have to say that my biggest takeaway is that its a good thing that football is not a judged event where things like technical ability and artistic merit matter. But as you can tell from one look at Chris Jones' wardrobe, he cares not for things like style. He cares only for winning. Sunday was yet another chapter in the "well, at least they won" season the Riders have been having.It wasn't pretty. It made me curse more than I'd like to at my TV but I'll take a win however we can get it.
In a surprising turn of events I will start by criticizing our defense followed by complimenting our D. It's like Bizzaro World. For the 3rd straight game our D was unimpressive to say the least. Sure they got 5 sacks but against a line as awful as Montreal that is pretty much a given. Kinda like getting $200 for passing Go. No turnovers and way too many lapses in coverage and missed tackles. I get that you don't necessarily game plan for a double reverse flea flicker but as the safety in the play Elam needs to not let people behind him. Then on the second TD Jovon blitzed and nobody bothered picking up the WR he was on in coverage. I can't say for sure but again it looked like Elam who erred. Either way it was a continuing string of not great defense and that's concerning when you look at the teams remaining on our schedule. I'm glad our O was finally able to do a favour for the D but if you are counting on that happening many more times then you are a worse gambler than past me in the fictitious scenario above. Jones needs to get things figured out.
Offense... WOW! Now it was against a really bad team but still it was an impressive showing especially when you consider our best WR didn't play. It was looking like it was going to be the day where everyone I have repeatedly pointed out never scores gets a TD. Mason, Moore... hell Evans even almost snuck in. I really felt our WRs stepped up in this one. Kyran Moore is an impact player and he has only played a handful of games. Evans picked a great day to not play like Shaq Evans. Even Kenny Shaw contributed in a very Bakari Grant-like role. The only downside was Josh Stanford. Repeat this with me again people "Nothing good happens when you target Josh Stanford". How has no one on our team figured that out yet?!? Collaros still had his miscues but overall played a solid game. That TD pass to Moore was more luck than anything. He realistically threw into triple coverage and was actually targeting Lambert. He completed 70% of his passes (and his WRs dropped a couple) produced 4 TDs (unheard of this season). What I like was the final FG drive. He got the ball on our 29 with a 2 point lead and 8 minutes on the clock. He managed to drive the ball 66 yards while taking 4 minutes off the clock. Sure a TD would have been a better end than an FG but that was a big time drive for an offense that has been struggling. I also need to compliment McAdoo for half decent play calling (I'm as shocked at this turn of events as you are). We actually had a short passing game that wasn't screen-based. Those quick inside slants were open all day and we kept exploiting that. We needed our O and for once they stepped up and helped carry the rest of the team. Let's not lose sight of how bad their opponent was but let's also focus on the positives here.
I've written this so many times its starting to get worn out but... in the end we won and that's all that matters. I was mildly concerned for a while that I was going to have to type a post about losing for a second type to Montreal. It was mostly going to be profanity and diagrams that would warrant a PG-13 rating. Fortunately the Riders found another way to win.
The win gives us a 2 game lead over Edmonton and 3 games over Winnipeg (since we have the tie-breaker) with 4 games to go. Its a rough 4 with every western opponent on tap and 2 tough road games but we control our own destiny for a home playoff game. An 8 point win over Edmonton on Thanksgiving Monday would leave the magic number at 1 to clinch. I won't lie, I did not expect a home playoff game this year so I'm pretty pumped that its a real possibility.
Other Random Thoughts:
- Seriously Chip Cox? You got dragged for double digits yards by one of the smallest guys on our team? Hang your head in shame.
- Tre Mason did the real life equivalent of a double jump on that play he went airborne. I still hate, hate, hate shotgun on third and one.
- I do wonder what Manziel could do with a competent GM, Coaching, O-line, Receivers.
- I big part of me was hoping Jefferson was going to pick off Manziel. You just know he would have been high stepping at the fifty yard line while making the money sign.
- 4 Tds?!? Still doesn't seem real.