Riders 20 – Stamps 17
The way that game started out I was pretty sure that history was about to repeat itself a third time. It had all the familiar elements of the first 2 games: defense caught sleeping early, offense that couldn’t do anything. Yup I knew where this was headed. Only this time ended up being different. We didn’t let Carey run all over us. We made plays on both sides of the ball. Hell we found the endzone! Twice! We fought and we came away with a much needed win. My whiskeys of sorrow became celebratory whiskeys.
Shaq and Duke got all the talk both before and after the game but holy hell can we stop for a second and appreciate the performance our defense turned in! The names on our starting depth chart caused concern for even the most optimistic of Rider fans. The only thing thinner than our LB and DB depth is the material in Ned Flanders’ ski suit (feels like I’m wearing nothing at all). So it would have surprised absolutely no one to see them lay an egg, especially with Kamar Jorden back in the line-up. Instead they racked up 4 turnovers, 4 sacks (against the O-line that has allowed less sacks than anyone) and held Calgary to 10 points through 59 minutes of play. Jason Shivers and his players deserve a ton of respect for that performance. I know it makes me petty but seeing Bo Levi throw a pick is still among the most satisfying things in football. Seeing him throw a hat trick of them to the well known defensive forces known as Dearborn, Webb and Clark (and their combined 0 career starts)… well I damn near needed a cigarette after that. Webb made a great play and bailed out Clark who fell down leaving his WR wide open (in theory). Clark just straight baited Bo into his pick. I know its only one game but given that Campbell and Brown haven’t exactly been lighting things up, I am interested in seeing more of those 2 going forward. Hell of a performance by the D… and everyone contributed. I saw Pinckney out there a lot, Herdman saw time, Dearborn, Leonard played a lot of LB. Just really good work by Shivers using a talent depleted roster in the best way he could. We even managed to keep the penalties down (except for that goal line offside that we all saw coming).
About the time that Cody threw that pick I had resigned myself to never seeing a TD again this season. And for the first half I was pretty close in that thought. Maybe the receiver screwed up but that pass had a better chance of being completed to 3 different Stamp defenders than a Rider. Our O-line still couldn’t figure out how to block a 3 man rush. It was embarrassing. Brett Boyko makes me long for the days of Charles Thomas. I think an actual pylon could provide more protection. But in the second half something clicked. I’d like to think it had something to do with remembering that a handoff to the RB is a legal football play. In the first half, Powell had two carries… two! The second one happened to go for 12 yards but why go back to that? In the second half Powell got 7 carries and low and behold we found the endzone. Go figure. Shaq and Duke did exactly what I expected. Didn’t go off but got a couple key catches and most importantly opened things up for Lenius and Moore (who both scored). You can just tell that Cody trusts Shaq. He was throwing him balls that had a super tight window that he wouldn’t throw to others. Shaq rewarded his trust with catches. Even though it wasn’t completed, I like the call to bomb it to Shaq at the end of the half. We needed a spark and Cody made a good read with Evans one on one. He also placed the ball well. That was a true 50/50 ball. Since I am often critical of our bad calls I should also say that I liked the 3rd down gamble and I actually liked the play call (I thought for sure Cody was going to unsuccessfully run for it). Now its not all rainbows and unicorns. The first half was the same old ineffective crap (like a swing pass for negative yards on 2nd and 11) and 20 points isn’t going to be enough to win every week but we finally saw some life out of a relatively lifeless unit. With the way our D has been playing, that can be just enough for us.
It was a much needed win that put us back in control of our own playoff destiny. Long way to go yet but I’m gonna enjoy this win after how the first 3 weeks of October went.