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
I thought our secondary was a bit week on Sunday. But the non-use of Powell inside the 10 yard line was obviously the reason we lost
Yeah they gave up some long ones and didn't make any game changing plays but as I said, as a unit they did enough to win.
You don't deserve to win if you can't score a TD particularly if you get so many chances in the Red Zone. Let's be honest the Riders got a lot of breaks. The Fajardo challenge that wasn't overturned. The game was over when Sayles let an easy INT slip through his hands & our guy caught it. Mind numbing play calling from McAdoo didn't help. All that's left is to lament the usual. If Collaros had played he wouldnt have missed Roosevelt twice in the open last year as did Bridge. We should have had TO on 3rd & long 2 years ago. If Fajardo didn't hit the crossbar the receiver would have caught it. In truth, the Riders were outplayed miserably vs the Argos for most of the game until Jones' return. The Bombers held a 14-13 lead at the end of 3 Qtrs last year & the Riders couldn't stop Harris or Streveler despite the fact Jones, the Riders & everyone in Mosaic knew what was coming. This year is no different so I hope the media doesn't endlessly go on about the "what if's" that go all the way back to Tony Gabriel. Surprise-this year I heard about how the Bombers would have won in 2007 had Glenn been healthy. A loss is a loss. Next year is the big year. Lot of good signs pointing to 2020. I think we would have taken 13-5 going into this season.
And there it is. The Leader Post musing about lost opportunities. If only the Riders beat the Bombers with all their chances then the TiCats were eminently beatable. Maybe the TiCats would not have taken a 13 win 1st place team as lightly. The 7 turnovers are unlikely replicated again. Completely beside the point but we can't help ourselves. Once again we should have won the Cup. Fact - if you don't get to the big game, you can't talk about beating the losing team. Unlike Winnipeg we had home advantage & only needed to win ONE game to get there. Didn't get it done so what makes us think we would beat Hamilton? Losing by 7 to a team that won the next game by 21 doesn't mean we win by 14. Our Rider inferiority complex is showing.
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