Riders 29 – Elks 24
I’m going to start on a point that Rob Vanstone touched on in a recent article… that being to actually appreciate the fact that we have secured a home playoff game. We have been very spoiled in recent years when it comes to home playoff games. We’ve just come to expect them. So much so that we are now complaining about the team not looking good enough when clinching them. Go back and explain to someone who lived through the 90s and early 2000s how you are unhappy that Riders didn’t look good enough despite clinching a home playoff game. They would look at you like you are the dumbest person alive. They would have killed to see one home playoff game, let alone multiple in back to back years. They wouldn’t have cared if we got said playoff games thanks to a last second rouge that improbably bounced in off the returner’s left testicle. I’ll be the first to admit that the Riders look like garbage in most of their wins. But I much prefer the winning records and home playoff games of this era to the continual 3rd and 4th place finishes that “highlighted” the years 1999-2006. I’ll save my anger for when we actually lose.
In some ways the game went exactly as expected minus not needing a Duke Williams on-side kick recovery. Ugly game: check. Closer than we’d all like: check. But in other ways it was a very different game. Defense had an off game. Not bad per say but just not the rock solid we’ve come to expect. They haven’t allowed this many points in over a month. The D-line looked rather so-so most of the night. They weren’t able to generate a turnover under Dearborn sealed it late. Offense, still looked trash most of the night but still managed to explode for 3 TDs. 3!!! That’s damn near a month worth of production at our normal pace. Special teams also chimed in both in a good a bad way. So we followed a similar template but found a slightly different way to win.
The story of the game was Duke Williams. He was dominant. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Rider receiver consistently own the defense play after play. He put up 146 and a TD and the crazy thing is he should have easily doubled that if we fed him the ball. At least 4 times I saw him beat his DB clean off the line and not get the ball. One in particular bugged me. I’m a just a dude in the stands who hasn’t played beyond recreational flag but even I recognized that we had Duke one on one to the short side with no safety help over top. Duke embarrassed the DB at the line and would have been wide open for an easy long TD… but Cody didn’t even look to that side of the field!!! A couple of times, pressure forced him to look away from an open Duke but that time was all on him. You need to at least look when you see that coverage. He threw another bad pick and should have had an even worse one but got bailed out on penalty. But then again he did produce 3 TDs to 3 different receivers and completed 70% of the passes so he did his job. So it was the good and the bad. It just seems our offense seems to do absolutely zero most of the time. We finally threw a crosser to Baker and need to that more. Our offense needs to run through Duke, Shaq and Baker. Nothing good seems to happen when we try and get Louis involved.
Defensively as I said, they had an off night. I don’t like the pattern that is emerging. We struggled to stop Kadeem Carey and now in back to back weeks struggled with Fletcher. Run D will be kinda important given our playoff schedule. I like Damon Webb. Nick Marshall won’t be re-signed this offseason and as much as I’ll remember the good plays he’s made over the years, I won’t miss him. He gave up another TD on Saturday. I’m not sure AC Leonard is getting enough hype for his play. He is tied for the league lead in sacks, despite missing 3 games due to suspension. He has 10 sacks in 10 games. 10 in a full 18 games is a good season.
Special teams was a wild ride. After calling for weeks for Morrow to be back in the starting line-up, he immediately fumbles. But just as quickly totally redeemed himself with a massive 82 yard return to snuffed out momentum that Edmonton had gained with a TD. It’s clear he doesn’t not have the top end speed to make house calls. But he consistently produces positive returns and just seems to see his return lanes and attack north south. I’ll take than any day over a guy like Davis who had speed but no idea how to actually use it effectively.
So yeah, it was ugly. But the Riders needed a win and they got the job done. They secured a home playoff game and now get to rest some key players for a meaningless road game next week. Giving guys like Fajardo, Micah, Duke etc… some rest will be so beneficial come 2 weeks against Calgary. That's mission accomplished.
So style points my ass. We won. Let’s not waste a win worrying about things that aren’t happening for 2 weeks. Again the fans from the 90s would not be able to fathom being angry after a win. Some years they couldn’t even fathom what a win would feel like.
Other random thoughts:
· Curious what the damage was to Duke’s knee. I thought he was done but he managed to finish the game. Still a bit worried about how hurt he will be once the adrenaline wears off. Hopefully we dodged a bullet.
· Highlight of the game was the fully clothed “Streaker” who ran onto the field only to find that nobody cared. He got to the other endzone was expecting security to swarm him but they never came. They never even moved. Finally he just casually walked up the stairs and into the stands. It was quite the spectacle.
I don’t care that the
ref cussed. Do you know how many times a game I cuss? Do you know how many
times I cuss in games I played in? Do you know how many times I silently cursed
while reffing games even at kids’ level? Grown man swears… colour me shocked. I
find it funny that the mics caught it but that’s about it