Riders 27 – Lions 19
It certainly couldn’t be described as a job well done, or even decently done but it was a job done by the Riders on Friday night and that’s what’s important. They needed a win to keep their hopes of first place alive and that exactly what they got. It was closer than it should have been and I’ll admit to uttering a least a couple curse words during that awful opening half. But in a results-based business they got results. If you have been a Rider fan for any length of time you have developed a healthy tolerance for ugly wins.
The defense did their job. Through 3 quarters they allowed just 9 points and 3 of those came as a result of Shaq Evans fumbling in FG range. They force turnovers. They notched 6 sacks. About the only thing you can fault them for not being able to contain the super-human catching abilities of Bryan Burnham. Short of shanking him I’m not sure what more you can do to stop him… and even them he’d probably still make the catch with the shiv still hanging out. Penalties are trending down but there were still too many of them for my liking. Better teams will make us pay for those kind of mistakes. Judge made his impact felt in his return and you get the sense that Elimimian is starting to peak at the right time of the year. Another week another solid game by Chad Geter. Still wondering what led to the decision to release him at the start of the year.
Offense was unfortunately a familiar song and dance. We started slow yet again, essentially sleeping through all but the final 2 minutes of the first half. Not sure if we need some caffeine in Fajardo’s Gatorade or what but we get off to consistently slow starts. In our last 6 games we are averaging 3 first quarter points. That won’t cut it come November. I also thought our offensive play calling was suspect. While the pass game was sputtering to start, William Powell was not. Three of his first 4 runs went for 10+ yards. So naturally we gave him the ball just 6 times in the first half and opted to continue to lean on a struggling pass game. Hell Powell even managed to get a first down on a Cody Fajardo run when Cody fumbled and he saved the day. Fortunately we figured things out in the third quarter and got rolling. Roosevelt continues to be our most valuable WR. In know he doesn’t have the most yards or TDs but he is what makes our pass game go. Evans and Moore are WRs trending in opposite directions. Evans has had a rough couple games while 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 (I know that pun was awful, I do not apologize). We need to get better at finishing drives. 4 FGs is too many. Again, when we play teams that actually made the playoffs a lack of finish like that can hurt us.
The game really seemed to me to be a case of playing down to our competition. The game wasn’t ever really in doubt but was way closer than it ever should have been had we played up to our usual level. You can see the times in the game where we tried (i.e. end of the 2nd, whole 3rd) and when we were in coast mode (1st and latter portions of the 4th). We need to be better but it’s not time to panic. We got the win we needed.
The Bombers did us no favours… useless buggers. So we are still sitting in second place. Technically we have not clinched a home playoff game yet. In the unlikely event that both the Riders and Stamps lose out and we finish in a 3-way tie with the Bombers then we could finish 3rd still. We can ensure it doesn’t come to that with a win next week over the Esks. I won’t say I like the chances of the Bombers actually doing us a favour and winning. They have a hard enough time winning with a mobile Streveler. A gimpy Streveler is certainly not going to improve those odds. They may have to decide between a concussion prone Collaros or non-running Streveler to salvage their slim hopes of a home playoff game. For the love of god let give Collaros a chance to be the hero Rider Nation always hoped he’d. Also for the love of god, Stamps don’t kill him.