Riders 19 – Bombers 17
Well it was certainly a lot more stressful on the old heart than I would have preferred but in the end the Riders did what they do on Labour Day… win. How in the hell do old people not die at these games? I’m in decent shape and my heart can barely take it. This year’s edition of the Labour Day Classic had quite the dramatic finish. As that final drive progressed, my thoughts progressed as follows:
- Dammit, Dickenson is going to lose on Labour Day. I really wanted to like him
- Well I guess we are punting for overtime.
- Oh thank god Brett Lauther has a massive range
- Holy hell we are going to win!!
It’s about at that point that my memory of the rest of the day gets mysteriously foggy.
It was a game where we outplayed the Bombers in the first half but weren’t able to take advantage in terms of scoring. We then just stuck in there and survived the second half in time pull yet another sprinkle of Jesus out of our bag of tricks.
The defense did their job and were really what carried us on Sunday. The had 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, held them under 20 points and really only allowed 2 big plays all game. Derrick Moncrief started the game like a man possessed. First play he snuffed out for a tackle for no gain. He then followed up with an interception the next play and added a punishing sack before the quarter was done (It wasn’t quite Craig Butler killer Buck Pierce but it was still pretty awesome). They did a good job of making Streveler uncomfortable in the pocket. So uncomfortable that at one point he just decided to throw a pass directly to Purifoy (nice read by him on that play). I really think Winnipeg wanted to lean heavy on Demski but we seemed to take that away from them. Some tackling to clean up in the run game but overall a great day.
Offense was a mixed bag. They started alright, though they didn’t get near enough point for the field position they were constantly starting with. Then they just decided to take an extra long halftime and do absolutely nothing until the final drive. Obviously Winnipeg has a great defense so some struggles were to be expected. But Fajardo made some bad decisions in that game (something he has done very rarely this season). The second INT probably should not have been thrown and was poorly placed. The first INT was just a really dumb throw. He had no business making it. To his credit, he learned from it because the exact same play came up again a bit later and he made a better decision. Winnipeg keyed into the fact that Fajardo’s tendency is to spin and roll out left and it cost us a few sacks. But struggles aside, just like in the Hamilton game, when it mattered most he shook it off and delivered. I love that he leans heavy on Roosevelt. I like how we keep milking that Shaq crosser. I didn’t like how little we ran but we made up for that in the end. I also like how we largely kept Willie Jefferson from being a game changer.
Special teams had a good day. Kick coverage was solid. Returns were decent. Even Jon Ryan decided to not suck and for the first time, he consistently hit the numbers when punting. I would of course prefer he progress to outside the numbers but this marks phenomenal progress from previous games.
Coaching made some early mistakes that we are lucky didn’t cost us. If you are going to challenge something 3 minutes into a game you better be damn sure you can win. One look at the replay on the jumbotron and 30,000 people could have told you not to challenge. It was a bad decision. As was whatever sequence of events led to us needing to take our second time out on a play where Winnipeg was conceding a safety.
The important thing though is we found a way to win. You just get the sense that this team believes in themselves and that can take a team a long way. We now sit in sole possession of second place. No time to rest on our laurels though. We have a chance to takeover first place next week but the difficulty and intensity will ramp up as we have to do it in their park.
Other random thoughts:
- There was a series of events where Winnipeg lined up for a FG and ended up running the QB sneak for the first down (a good call). Thanks to an intentional grounding call and a tackle for a loss they ended up punting 3 plays later. Probably should just have taken the points.
- Lavar Edwards is probably getting fined for his hit on the long snapper. I honestly don’t know how the refs didn’t call that in the game.
- Who at the army did we piss off to get blacklisted from fly bys?