Riders 27 – Alouettes 25
Part of me loves those super close games. The game on the line, the roar of the crowd, the tension in every play, the eruption when we win. The heart part of me does not like these games. It much prefers the decisive victories and does not enjoy the tension-filled games as it takes years off my life. Some day I will die in the stands when my heart gives out as I curse shotgun formation on 3rd and 1 or tell someone a bad play was their fault for starting the wave on offense.
Anyway, if drama was your thing, Saturday was for you. The Riders yet again had to drive the field in the dying minutes of the game to score the game winning points. Had you asked me during the opening quarter if I envisioned a scenario where a game winning drive was possible I would have laughed in your face. I have seen the Riders checkout mentally early in advance of the bye week before and thought they might be doing so again at first. Through the first quarter our offense had done nothing. Like less than 50 yards net nothing. Like, almost more penalty yards than offense nothing. Like, I can’t afford to get drunk enough at stadium prices to endure 3 more quarters of this nothing. Fortunately we woke up mid-way through the second quarter. And promptly went back to sleep for most of the third waking up just in time for an exciting finish. Equal parts frustrating and exhilarating… that’s Rider football.
I though the D had a very solid game. Through the opening half when the offense was doing their best impression of the majority of the Riders of the 80s, they were the only thing keeping us in the game. They allowed a bunch of yards but limiting Montreal to 3 FGs to start the game was huge. Even one of those becomes a major and it’s a very different game. Full credit for locking down Stanback. 57 yards rushing is peanuts for him. The flip side was we allowed a ton through the air. But as mentioned they tended to lock down in the redzone and held on long enough for their offense to start doing something. Micah Johnson stepped up and had a big game, helping somewhat fill the Hughes void. Chad Geter made an impact in his return too. Very happy to have him back (he was good on special teams as well).
The O, as mentioned, took way too long to get going. After the end of the first I was wondering if the glory days (few games) of a good offense had passed up by and we were back to 2018. Fortunately Fajardo answered the bell and put 3 TDs on the board. The biggest key was Powell. We finally fed him the ball 15 runs and 3 more catches. Go figure that good things happen when you lean on your stud RB. Let’s see more of that. Fajardo looked like garbage early with many errant passes. But he recovered and most importantly protected the ball. I liked his deep ball to Evans (nice to get back to that). I like how he knows that Roosevelt is his guy. And I like that he did what your QB is supposed to do. He lead the team and produced when it mattered most. Someone should tell him that if he did that a bit earlier in the game he wouldn’t have to have all these last minute drives.
Specials teams had a much better day… well except Brett Lauther. I was not expecting him to be the kicker I’d be cursing. The 4 points he missed could have been very costly. But he recovered. Ryan had a good day kicking and the cover teams were much much better. Hopefully they can keep that up.
So there you have it world. The Riders beat a good team with all their best players playing. No more asterisks. No more ya-buts. We won. It was ugly. It was a struggle at times but we won. We head into our last bye week with 8 wins (one more than we had at this time last year) and went 5-1 over the middle third of the season. I'll gladly take it.
Other random thoughts:
- I really thought we missed a huge opportunity on 80s night to replace the 4th quarter stretch with a Body Break. It would have been the only thing better than the Rider sing along
- If I were running music, as soon as the midway point of the third quarter hit I would have started blaring Thunderstruck. I’m a dick like that.
- I don’t know how Shaq Evans didn’t die on that hit.
- I don’t know how Quan Bray wasn’t cut on the spot. He fumbled the first punt twice. Once a penalty on our part bailed him out. The second time Bouka straight up missed the ball. Add in his massive drop on that sure TD in the 4th . That’s a rough night.
- Craig Dickenson needs to get the undisciplined crap cleaned up. We are taking way too many penalties. Added another 87 yards worth on Saturday and many were either preventable or dumb after the whistle crap. He’s gotta reign the boys in a bit before it costs us big.