Riders 17 – Bombers 21
If nothing else you can say the Riders were consistent. Much like the rest of the season, Sunday saw us field a championship calibre defense and a rec league calibre offense. They made a hell of a game up it but ultimately were not going to beat a team as good as the Bombers with that many mistakes. You need to win at least 3 phases. One phase came to play, one phase was meh and at best a saw off with the Bombers and one phase... well if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Early on it seemed our best strategy was to let the Bomber get into the redzone and assume they would screw up. And the turnovers just kept coming. 6 of them against a team who turned the ball over less than anyone else this year. But with each successive turnover, one thing kept missing… points. Off those amazing 6 turnovers, we produced just 10 points. Put another way we average less than FG for each turnover. Can’t pass up that many opportunities against the top team in the West and expect to win. Defense did everything they could to keep us in.
Offense… well they were exactly what we’ve come to expect from the 2021 Riders… dysfunctional at all levels. O-line that can’t block… allowing 5 sacks. Play calling that boggles the mind. Some of our third and short plays included hand-off 5 yards deep when we needed 2 and bombing it deep (because you know the deep ball has really been our strength this year). Compound that with a QB who continues to make really bad reads. The one time we actually had the screen pass set up to work, he didn’t throw it. End of the half with zero seconds on the clock he throws a 12 yard pass (why?). And with all due respect to Mitch Picton (who I like), it is simply idiotic that with the game on the line he’s your primary/only read when he clearly was well covered. Literally any other receiver would have been a better look. Compound that with receivers making mistakes the few times Fajardo made a great play. Duke missed a guaranteed TD by mysteriously stopping running. Baker had a drop. The list goes on. You can’t point to any one person as the sole issue with our O. Everyone involved with that mess contributed and the result is a team that can’t score 20 points.
Not that I think it would have made a difference but good lord did Winnipeg get away with some blatant holds. I’m pretty sure even if they completely pulled off one of our defenders jerseys they still would have not thought it was holding. To be fair, I’m not convinced that Duke catch was actually a catch either. I will also once again call for college-style ejections for targeting. Somehow we still use video review to see if sneezing on a QB is roughing but can't use it to eject people for blatant head shots.
Moral victories my ass. I’m proud of the effort the players and coaches put it because I do believe they poured their heart into it. And realistically within 32 yards of the Grey Cup is not bad for a team that had 5 blown achilles and half their Ol line leave weeks before the season. But in the words of Ricky Bobby, if you’re not first, you’re last. And losing because you simply aren’t good enough in one phase of your team does not make me feel any better.
Much like 2008 we squandered a great defense. O’Day has a year to get that utter lack of anything resembling an offense figured out if he wants to have a shot at the Cup here in 2022.