Riders 23 – Lions 16
In a shocking turn of events, the Riders’ decision to base their offense around running and Schaefer-Baker led to good things. Who could possibly have predicted that? You know, other than pretty much anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with Mason Boss. I’ll admit I’m still in a bit of shock over the win. I mean, our rock solid defense against a back-up QB (turns out just being Canadian doesn’t make you Rourke 2.0) should have given us great odds for victory. But based on how the past month or so has gone, you’ll forgive me for having my doubts.
Going to change things up a bit and start on offense. I mean who knows when the next time they will play good enough for me to make note of them. After a couple weeks of god awful performances they stepped. I mean they stepped up in a very Rider way by allowing 7 sacks. But they didn’t turn the ball over. They let their RB lead the way and they actually found a way to get their best receiver the ball. Also, gotta give props to Fajardo. For a guy rightly facing all the criticism in the world, he delivered his best performance in a while. The long bomb to Schaefer on the zero blitz was beauty (when was the last time you saw Cody hit a guy in stride?) but for me the better pass was the TD to Jones. He placed that ball perfectly where only his receiver could make a play on it. It was by no means pretty or perfect but it was nice to see Cody step up and prove he can still put up points. I do kinda worry that we use up about a month worth of production in one game and a big dry spell is coming. But for now I will revel in the happiness of a much needed win.
One more comment on Fajardo. For as good as he played, he consistently did what I call “pre-turtling”. That is, I saw him start to turtle in anticipation of getting hit way earlier than he actually needed to on many. Its plainly obvious that this is a guy who just assumes he’s getting hit. I don’t blame him but we need a more fearless Cody. Our line doesn’t give much time to begin with. Can’t waste any of it by pre-turtling.
Story for you. In my Game Preview I wrote “Or if a sure fire pick bounces off a BC defenders hands over the rest of the defenders and flukily into the hands out our WR who walks in untouched.” Minus the walking in untouched that happened on the first long Baker pass. Also, before the game I was chatting with my buddy and doubled down on that prediction adding that it would also take the DB pulling up lame due to injury like happened in the Winnipeg game the night before. That also happened. Look, there’s a reason they call me the Prophet… just ignore the part where I predicted we’d lose.
One more note on the offense. It wasn’t just big that we ran a lot (15 touches for Hickson) its that we stayed committed to the run consistently. 10 touches came after half. I honestly thought it was against Maas’ religion to run after half. It was so great to see us close out. We got the ball with 2:33 left and did not give the ball back.
Defense did their job. Its helps when your job involves defending O’Connor who completed 40% of his passes and Pipkin, who I remain adamant is not good (though I won’t lie I was worried as hell that the curse of BC third stringers would rear its ugly head and Pipkin would somehow beat us. Seen that happen way too many times over the years). The run game was a complete non-factor, Butler has 18 yards. We held Bryan Burham to 1 catch. You know who we matched up on him most of the time? The ever-reliable Moncrief. Milligan had a sure-fire pick 6 bounce of him because he was already doing his endzone celebration in his head. Rely got to see the closing speed of Jeremy Clark on display. He made a lot of great plays as the ball arrived. The D didn’t allow a TD until 6 minutes left in the game. We will face better QBs than Pipkin/O’Connor but for this week they did their job and shut down the opponents on the road.
That was a much needed win. Both in terms of the standings, and just general confidence. I know they were missing the best player in the league but just proving we can beat a west team not named Elks on the road, gives a much needed boost of confidence heading into 3 games in the next 4 against the best team in the CFL.
Labour Day is up next and lord knows anything can happen on Labour Day… I mean other than our O-line allowing less than 5 sacks.
Other random thoughts:
- Nice to see Moore back out there. He clearly had some rust to work off but he’ll be a needed weapon in the coming weeks.
- Hope the injury to Alford is a minor one. Moore is a good returner but there’s very few game changers like Alford.
- I get why the Sankey hit was a penalty by the book. But I also don’t know what Sankey could do in that spot. If he doesn’t follow through on his tackle then QB could bounce off him or spin off. He was in no man’s land. I get it, I just don’t like it.
- Did anyone else get sick of how much the announcers went on about the hit and how it may have hurt O’Connor? He hurt his groin. Basic anatomy would tell you that something else other than a hit to the chest was at play.
- Does it bother anyone else that Harty wears one solitary baggy sleeve? If it was 2, fine. If it was one of those tight fitting ones fine. But of what value is one baggy sleeve?