Riders 33 – Stamps 30 (OT)
If you had told me before the game that Fajardo would throw 4 picks and our only change a victory was if the most accurate kicker in the regular season missed 3 FGs in the game, I would have bet my first born child against the Riders. Certainly dodged a bullet on that one (don't tell my wife).
What did you honestly expect? That was the most on-brand way for the Riders to win. It was very consistent with what they showed in the regular season. Much like a discount hooker, they are almost ugly enough to induce vomiting but will get the job done in the end even if you don’t feel great about it afterwards.
Had we lost, that would have 100% been on Cody. Normally I’m very big on winning and losing as a team but man he sure tried to lose that game by himself. Picked a hell of time to play like dog crap. He just wasn’t making good reads. Clearly he committed to a play pre-snap and didn’t bother looking somewhere else when his primary read was not even close to open. The only exception was the INT on the long pass to Shaq, where Shaq was open but Cody threw it late and floated it. Fortunately Cody can run because that was about the only good thing he did in that game. Also, fortunately he managed to not suck for one TD drive late, mostly because he finally decided to feed Duke the ball. Why it took until the 4th to figure that plan out is beyond me. The few times Cody managed not to suck his receivers hung him out to dry. Shaefer-Baker should have had that TD, it was a well thrown ball. I did like how we actually stayed committed to Powell. Probably helped that passing the ball proved so problematic. O-line was a solid mediocre and by our standards that’s a massive step up.
Defensively was a mixed bag. I was pleasantly surprised with Marshall. He came out fired up and tried stirring stuff up at midfield pre-game and went on to play a very good game. He was dialed in. Gainey balled out and made Bo Levi his bitch. That second INT you could tell from the second it left Bo’s hands that it was going to be a pick. D-line was not as impactful as we have grown accustomed to but made some key plays late. Can’t say I expected our D to give up 30… though some of that is on the O for the repeated turnovers. Consider that off 4 INTs we allowed just 10 points off turnovers. Add 4 turnovers to that and the D actually played better than the stat line would say.
Special teams won us this game. I’ve been hyping Morrow all year and he finally delivered when it mattered most. One massive TD that counted. One that didn’t (the penalty was pretty minor but a penalty nonetheless). And while a so-called all-star kicker did his best to ensure a victory for the other team, our self proclaimed best kicker in the league actually lived up to his hype. I mean I could have done without the doink as that gave us all some PTSD. But he was clutch when we needed it. Also I definitely had PTSD when I saw flags on the game winning kick. Absolutely refused to get my hopes up until hearing the call. Special teams was the difference in this one. Ours was good, there’s was not.
There were times when I could have kissed our coaching staff. Starting the second half with the onside kick and then driving for a TD was massive. There were also times where they deserved to be kicked in the crotch. Look our offense was garbage and Morrow was good, everyone at the stadium could see it. But of the 5 times that Paredes actually hit an FG we only made them kickoff twice. Opting to leave the playmaker Morrow on the sidelines, in favour of more interceptions. Bad coaching calls. Also, I doubt it would have made a difference but at the end of the 4th we (once again) refused to take a timeout before the Paredes kick and left ourselves with just 37 seconds instead of 50+. When all we needed was an FG, you think you’d want a few more seconds. Did Dickenson join some strange religion where timeouts as considered a sin?
But all my criticisms account for nothing, because in spite of all that we did what we’ve done all year. Found a way to win. Believe I’m elated with the playoff win regardless of how much sucking we did in the process. I’m also elated to say that Calgary and Bo Levi managed to lose to a team that threw 4 INTs. Now that’s embarrassing. Also embarrassing is getting kicked out of a playoff game at halftime because you think punching a guy with a helmet is a good idea. That gave us momentum heading into half that we carried over in the 3rd quarter.
Not even going to start worrying about next week. Just enjoying the win. We are one win away from the Grey Cup… what more could you want? I distinctly remember the feeling leaving the stadium after the '18 and '19 playoff games. So regardless of how we got there, I'm damn sure going to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.