Riders 27 – Eskimos 24
Well holy crap! Everything somehow fell into place and we emerged from the weekend in sole possession of first place and control over our own destiny. I’m not sure which is more shocking, that the Riders managed to win that game after a dreadful start or that the Bombers managed to do something useful? However the hell it all came together, the end result could not be better for the Riders. Sure it took a gritty, stress-filled, last minute comeback but the important thing is we won.
I’m not one to toot my own horn… and if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that’s a lie. Toot toot time! I’d like to point out a few things I wrote in this space in the week leading up to Saturday's game…
Oct 25 - Based on how this season has gone I’m already mentally preparing myself for a game that we make way more difficult than it needs to be. It will take another late game sprinkle of Jesus comeback
Oct 21 - Moore has caught all of his targets in consecutive games and made some key catches including a TD in this game. Not saying we should give up on Shaq but I think we could maybe benefit from giving a bit “Moore” love to the hot hand of Swerve
Oct 24 – If Edmonton gets the lead they will attempt to end the game early by faking a power failure.
Okay maybe that last one is made up but damn if I didn’t nail those first 2. Will someone please tell my wife that instances of me being right are not as rare as she would have you believe?!?
Our offense reminds me of trying to download a great song on Napster on a dial-up modem. Now, I’m going to pause here and acknowledge that I probably lost a chunk of my readers who are too old to know what Napster is and another chunk that is too young to get the concept of dial-up. Congrats to those of you in the sweet spot in the middle who fully get that reference. Anyway, picture watching the progress bar as you are downloading a great song… it takes forever to do anything and seemingly is completely inactive at times but eventually completes and you get to rock out. That’s our offense. Spent most of the first half loading and then suddenly with 3 minutes left in the first half, just when you’ve given up on them, it’s go time. I’ll again re-iterate that if they could be even remotely useful prior to 3 minutes left in the half it would make it a lot easier to win games. That said, if there’s one guy you trust to deliver in a pinch, its Fajardo. He did it against Hamilton, he did it on Labour Day, he did it against Montreal, he did it again on Saturday. That drive from his own 6 with the game on the line is exactly why he just got paid. He’s a leader plain and simple. Gotta make special mention of Kyran Moore who carried the offense even when we had nothing else going on. Had we not completed that second half comeback this pace would have been filled with how dumb I thought our offensive play calling was in the first half and how we stubbornly refused to adjust to the pressure up the middle they were killing us with. At some point we will need to figure out why the first quarter is our kryptonite, but for now let’s appreciate the amazing comeback our O delivered when we needed it.
Defense I thought played a good game all things considered. If you exclude the TD they allowed when Cody gifted the Esks the ball on our own 2 yard line, they only allowed 17 points and allowed just 10 points over the final 45 minutes of the game. They added 2 more key turnovers. They allowed yards but that’s to be expected with the quick release game of Harris. Our D-line was essentially invisible but the quick release was a factor in that. The thing is I’ve found this year that with Shivers you need to look at the performance overall. Sure a lot of things you don’t like play to play but consistently when the game ends you look back and go, “well they did their job”. They are kinda like me that way, not much to look at most of the time but pretty good at what they do. It will be important to win next week as you can tell that a lot of guys on D are banged up and gutting it out. A week to rest will be hugely beneficial.
As much as hate our slow starts, they have proven time and time again that this team has the heart to find ways to win even when they aren’t playing their best. That intangible more than any individual skill will make a difference come playoff time.
Home playoff game is clinched. First place is just a win away. For a team that started the season with a concussed starting QB and a 1-3 record, that’s not too shabby. Get pumped Saturday’s game against the Esks is massive!!!
Other random thoughts:
- I still can’t get over the call to throw a 50/50 ball to Christion Jones when you look at all the other talented receivers they could have chosen to do that with. Maas would have been better off to stick with the tried and true FG.
- I can’t believe that we out penaltied a Jason Maas team. We added 10 more penalties (mostly on special teams). This needs to stop.
- I’m just glad that after spending the week forced to cheer for the Bombers, we didn’t waste the opportunity. If I had cheered for the Bombers for nothing I would have been pissed.