Riders 31 – Lions 24
I won’t lie, part way through the third quarter I had a very different idea of how this morning’s post would go. I had this mounting feeling of “I’ve seen this movie before”. Keep it close for half a game despite doing next to nothing only to slowly have the game slip more and more away as the second half went on. I was prepared to lambaste a defense that could not tackle or keep themselves from taking penalties. I was prepared to go on about the insanity of stubbornly sticking to an offense that was 95% swing passes. I was prepared to bemoan that we were back to not being able to find the endzone even if they placed us on the one yard line and pushed us forward. Then we went ahead a decided to win the game and suddenly a mistake filled, anger inducing game transforms into a gritty road win. God bless football!
Look I applaud the Riders for not giving up and continuing to fight for a very difficult first road win of the year. But if we are being honest with ourselves, we were the beneficiary of BC doing their damndest to give that game away. Camacho missed a FG that would have made it a 2 score game with 5 mins to go. Flintoft pooched a punt that gifted us the ball at half when we needed it most. And Lucky Whitehead lived up to his name by paying out like a lucky slot machine. We took advantage of all those opportunities to our credit but if I’m BC I feel like I stole defeat from the claws of victory with that finish.
There was good and bad on both sides.
Defensively we held Reilly in check pretty good. First time in a while he’s been held under 300 yards and 70% passing (coincidentally first time he’s played a team with a winning record in a while… just sayin’). Having Gainey back was obviously a boost. Micah was disruptive upfront. Woodard is just the latest recipient of being made to look amazing by cleaning up Micah’s dirty work. Lacey continues to be a stabilizing force in the middle of that D. The bad was as previously mentioned some really poor tackling. Another night of big time penalty yards on D (75 this time… though that PI call was pretty ticky tacky). Marshall was clearly hurt bad at the end of the half. He didn’t even move on the TD to Whitehead. He should not have been out there. I was shocked he came back and was useful after half. Whatever “aspirin” the trainers have must be good. They locked it down late when we needed it so credit to the D yet again. And just to remind you this is a D missing Leonard, Marino, Bishop, Dean, Edem and Hendy.
Offense was a lot more bad than good. It started out the same old Maas predictable as all hell short passing game. I don’t think I have ever seen so many swing passes attempted despite the fact they were not working. I was watching the game with a buddy and he kept saying they are clearly setting up to pump the swing and go deep. Then the moment came, they pumped the swing… only the check down to the swing. Thank god Lenius exists because if not for him we would make zero deep attempts. O-line had a bad night. They honestly looked worse against 3 and 4 man pressure than they did against the blitz. Not sure what the panel was smoking when the praised our protection at half time. They showed 2 clips of good blocking that led to long completions… they were our only 2 good plays of the half. They were bad. And that Fajardo INT that should have cost us the game was atrocious. I have a lot of respect for Picton, but if Picton in double coverage is your read when we desperately need a play… then maybe your brain ain’t quite recovered from that concussion.
Fortunately Fajardo is fighter and suddenly late in the game it just clicked and our O magically started producing again. The emergence of Ricardo Louis was a big part of that. Defenses are clearly keying on Moore so having a reliable third option to Lenius and Baker is important (honestly didn’t see myself ever writing that sentence). I’m convinced Fajardo crossed the line by about a millimeter but he got the job done when it mattered and that’s why we love him.
Ugly wins seems to be the theme of the 2021 season. We ain’t putting up style points. In fact if the Riders were a lover their partner would likely suggest the lights be off… like all off and maybe put a bag on their head. But in the wise words of Lonely Island “Still Counts!” I don’t think this current method of winning is sustainable but for now all that matters is that the wins keep coming… and other than Winnipeg, no one has found a way to beat us yet. Second place with the season series over BC locked up is a great place to be at the half way point. Next up is an all Calgary October. If we go at least 2-1 in that three game set, we are sitting pretty.
Other random thoughts:
- I honest to god thought that Louis TD pass was going off the crossbar.
- You can tell Damon Webb is a practice roster player. A veteran would have secured that fumbled kick and gone down immediately. But as a man who does not frequently see the field, Webb was all about them stats.
- Did we have the wrong footwear for the BC Place turf? Sure saw a lot of Riders slipping out there.
- I like good Brett Lauther so much better than what we had the past couple weeks
- Why is Reilly always cursed with OC’s who have no use for the run game?