Riders 13 – Bombers 20
We knew heading into to Sunday that we were in tough and every aspect of the team would need to bring their best. With Fajardo not close to 100% (he turned in a hell of a performance all things considered but if you really thought coming into that game he was healthy then I have many pyramid marketing schemes that I would like to speak with you about) it was going to take a mistake free game to book our ticket to Calgary… but that didn’t happen. Mistakes were as plentiful as my rye intake. We kept it close, but every time we got close another mistake would pop up and keep the win just out of reach. The season may have ended on a doink but there were many other moments that led up to that that ended our season a week sooner than we had hoped.
We lost for one simple reason… we could not get the ball in the endzone. You can’t expect to win a playoff game when you can’t score a TD. As much as it would be easy to blame that on a QB somehow gutting through 2 torn muscles, for me this was a lot more on coaching. Powell got 8 rushes This was despite him averaging 6 yards a carry against the best run D in the CFL. He did have an uncharacteristic and costly fumble but it would seem he was running well enough to warrant a few more carries. We had the ball inside the 10 yards line 4 time. Do you know how many times we gave Powell (a man who led the CFL in offensive TDs) the ball? Once. Criminally underused one of our best weapons when he should have been the focal point of the offensive game plan. I guess we were saving him for next week or something?
My most hated play in all of football had a prominent role in the loss as well. The old “Shotgun on short yardage” play. When you need a yard and the defense has to start a yard back it makes zero sense to willingly turn a 1 yard conversion attempt into a 5 yard attempt. Not only did we call a stupid play, we doubled down by putting in our 3rd string QB to run it. We seemed to have something against going up the middle as we went laterally later in the game and Fajardo got tripped up in the back field. I get that Winnipeg has a good defensive front but if you can’t trust the interior of your OL to get you 1 yard, get a new interior OL. The other curious coaching thing was the refusal to take a timeout near the end of half. How many times have we mismanaged the clock going into the half? Obviously even with a few extra seconds, there was no guarantee we could get into scoring range but why not give yourself the chance?
On a more positive note, I want to acknowledge how good a player Kyran Moore has developed into. I still think he is underrated. Moore was targeted 10 times and had 9 receptions most of the big important catches. By comparison Evans had 9 targets and 4 receptions. On the year Moore caught 78% of his targets. Of receivers who had over 75 receptions, the next closest is Braylon Addison at 75%.
Defense played one hell of a game. Yes, they allowed too many long passes but when you hold a team to 20 points, 6 of which came when your offense turned the ball over in its own end twice. We neutralized the best running attack in the CFL keeping the combo of Streveler/Harris to a combined 51 yards ad we got 3 sacks against a pretty stout Bomber OL. We really needed the D to produce a turnover but they couldn’t (they did force 2 fumbles but could not recover). Still, I don’t put the loss on the D. They held up their end of the bargain.
We had our chances in this game and just couldn’t execute. Winnipeg made plays when they needed to. That was the difference. Credit to Dickenson, Fajardo and everyone else on a great season (that few expected)… but losing still sucks.
Next week one of the two longest Grey Cup droughts in the CFL will come to an end… and the Bombers’ drought will continue.
Regular readers will know this already but if you are new to this blog be sure to stick with me through the offseason for news and irreverent commentary.
Other random thoughts:
- For the record Fajardo was over the line. It wasn’t close, how that was upheld on review is mind boggling.
- That fake punt return was a thing of beauty… until Marshall ran out of gas and his blockers forgot to actually block. That should have been a TD