Riders 45 - Lions – 18
As it was, Saturday saw an embarrassing beat down of the Lions at the hands of the Riders. Had the Riders not decided to go to sleep for 2 special teams plays the results would have been even worse. The Lions just laid there and give it up so easy that there is probably a social media justice warrior out there right now demanding the Riders be brought to justice for having their way with them against their will… that and stuffed animal rights. Won’t someone think of the stuffed animals?!?
The Riders had a chance to pounce on team was reeling and bury them early and boy did they seize that opportunity. Coach Dickenson said coming into the game they wanted to start on D regardless of the coin toss to set the tone. The plan worked. Elimimian sacked Reilly on the second offensive play of the game and the D was relentless all game. They help Mike Reilly to 66 yards passing… 66! I have seen Reilly amass that in a single pass before. Throw in the 44 rush yards we allowed and BC would have almost been better off to just not play offense. Mike Reilly is probably getting to the point where he would be ok with that strategy. The only thing missing from a strong defensive performance was turnovers. Louchiez Purifoy had a massive game. In addition to his big kick return (nice to see a consistently strong returner finally hit pay dirt) he played rock solid in the secondary. I still can’t believe Ottawa just outright cut him last year. Their stupidity is our gain I guess. Overall I just love how we came out aggressive and took the play to a struggling opponent. They essentially allowed a FG.
Offensively I liked what we did as well. BC has an underperforming front 4 and we attacked them with a strong run game over and over again. By the midway point of the game you could tell the Lions turned off the effort and checked out. We know from last week that BC’s secondary is vulnerable but we didn’t really need to attack it as the ground and pound was working and Fajardo was effective in working the underneath stuff. Normally a day where Cory Watson is your leading receiver is not a great day but when your defense allowed nothing and your RB is chewing up triple digit yards then its not so bad. I still like Fajardo’s decision making and reads. That fumble wasn’t ideal but compare how often his passes go to the right place and think back to last year and how often Collaros found the wrong coloured jersey. A patchwork O-line did their job and kept the QB clean and powered a strong run game. Fajardo’s mobility certainly bails out our O-line sometimes but when you look at how deeply we have tested our depth, you have to be happy with how they are holding up. Nice to have Bladek back.
Special teams was a mixed bag. Purifoy’s return was huge. Jon Ryan had one excellent punt (and a rouge where even over the radio you could hear Rider fans cheering… sigh). On the flip side allowed not 1 but 2 kick return TDs. Had we been playing an even mildly competent team that would have been killer. We’ve allowed way too many big returns. It cost us the season opener against Hamilton and unless we get it shored up it will cost us again.
We went on the road and took care of business knocking off a weaker team. We now sit at .500 and have locked down a season series with a western opponent. That’s the good news. The dose of reality is that our only wins so far this season have come against teams that are likely to be have their football gear packed in garbage bags come playoff time. The wins have come against teams with a combined 1 win on the season. Tougher games are ahead and we need to start playing more consistently in all 3 phases to keep this up. The good news is that when you look at the Toronto’s, BC’s and Rick Campbell’s horrendous decision to concede a safety, life looks pretty good even at 3-3.