After two and a half long years, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are out of the Western basement (thanks to owning a tiebreaker over the B.C. Lions), while there’s still a lot of season left, it’s still something worth celebrating for Rider Nation.
By climbing out of the hole they created for themselves early this season, you can now say the Riders have a legitimate shot at making a run at a playoff spot. Whether they actually do it or not is another question but, the fact that there’s something to look forward and something to cheer for over the second half of the season is good news for both fans and the team. Over the last two seasons, the season was essentially over at this point. This year, it’s not.
How did they get here? Through big plays mostly. Offensively and defensively, the Riders stepped up to the plate against the Bombers on Sunday afternoon. That was especially true early as Kevin Glenn had a handful passes go for more than 10 years, including a 53 yard touchdown pass to Naaman Roosevelt. Ed Gainey added another interception for good measure. That trend continued win the second with a 50 yard catch and run by Bakari Grant and a 48 yard run by Cameron Marshall. That’s without mentioning another circus catch by Duron Carter. The first half was simply an avalanche of Rider momentum.
The Bombers did eventually adjust and the Riders offence did slow down but the damage was already done. Though, they could have used one more touchdown at some point in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Where the Riders go from here has yet to be seen, but at least it’s still worth watching.
– Plenty of chatter on Twitter during the game about the Riders and their seemingly well timed injuries on defence. They certainly do look fishy and while going down to get a timeout might be frowned up or against “the code” to borrow a term from other sports. However, it’s pretty hard to enforce. If this does become a trend as we know coaches love to be copy cats, then the league will have to look into it and figure out a way to curb it. Can you completely stop it? Not sure, it’s nothing new but that often in a game is rare.
– Even with the big plays, the Riders might have lost this game if they didn’t do the job they did on Andrew Harris. Harris is certainly a candidate for the league’s most outstanding player award. When he goes off, the Bombers win. Harris did crack 100 yards of offence again, but most of that damage came as the Bombers were in catch up mode. Harris had just 29 yards rushing, if he got established early, it would have been a very different game.
– Now is the time for Rider fans to hold their breath when it comes to Cameron Marshall. The running back has been an important cog in their offence this season. Injuries that occur without contact generally aren’t good news. TSN’s Lee Jones did report during the game that it was not an Achilles, which is generally something we see in that situation. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
– Duron Carter had another one of those games. He’s been pretty steady for a few weeks now but definitely took over, at least in the first half. When Carter does that, it takes a lot of pressure on Naaman Roosevelt who is often the go-to guy and only makes the whole offence better.
– Ed Gainey is definitely back to his 2015 form. The defensive back added another two picks on Sunday. That gives him a league leading six interceptions. Willie Jefferson is still has my (non-existent) vote for the team’s most outstanding defensive player, but Gainey is starting to make it interesting.
– The offensive line has really been strong during this winning streak. Shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as good line play generally leads to wins. Brendon deserves a tonne of credit for stepping in at centre. It’s not something he’s done a lot of but the professional is doing what he does.
– How good is Kevin Glenn right now? Glenn hasn’t thrown his patended interception in a while and has been piling up the touchdowns, adding another three against Winnipeg to sit tied for second behind Ottawa’s Trevor Harris. An improved line and a stocked corps of receivers is definitely helping Glenn but he’s definitely doing his part as well.
– Whatever you may think about celebrations in football, you have to give Chris Jones credit for letting his players be themselves. Between the conga line and other celebrations against the Bombers, the Riders are definitely getting creative. Like them or not, it’s important to let players be who they are. (For the record, I have no problem with them for the most part. As long as you don’t bust one out when you’re getting blown out).
– I enjoyed the tribute to Taylor Field before the game. The card stunt to make the seats look like the old seats was pretty cool.
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