Just like that, the 2017 Saskatchewan Roughriders season has come to an end. The finality of the one game playoff in football is harsh but it’s the fact of life in the sport.
The Riders run at history is over after a 25-21 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the Eastern Final, they came up just short even after a furious fourth quarter comeback. So, how did it happen? Individually there was plenty of moments throughout the game you could point to, but ultimately, the Riders are going home because they didn’t take advantage of the opportunities they created for themselves, especially in the first quarter.
The green and white created the first two turnovers of the game. A turnover on downs and a fumble recovery. What did they have to show those game-changing defensive plays? A 7-3 deficit. The turnover on downs lead to a field goal, a touchdown there could have had the Riders mojo going in a different direction. Instead, the drive stalled deep in Argo territory and from then on, the offence did little to nothing until the fourth quarter. In fact, the Riders offensive effort helped Toronto score 10 more points (a pick-six and a field goal off another interception) before the half was over.
Everything else fell into place for the Riders at BMO Field. The defence was the only reason they were even in the football game, they got a big play team on special teams when Christion Jones returned a punt to give his team the lead late.
The offence did eventually come to life with a big fourth quarter, but it never should have come to that. If anything, having the wind in the fourth quarter and eventually all of the momentum should have ended the game. Jones’ return touchdown probably would have been the exclamation point with even just even more points off of turnovers in the first half. Instead, the Argos had time to regain the lead and Ricky Ray did his thing.
Ray had the chance to win the game thanks to his team scoring off turnovers. On this day, his team was the better team.
That was the difference.
– This week Argos’ defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin said he would bring the heat and he did. In combination with the turnovers, and the offence being stuck in neutral overall, that pressure again chased Glenn from the game. It really makes you wonder what Ottawa was thinking last week defensively. The Riders need to upgrade their pass protection over the winter. As much as Ottawa should have sent pressure, Saskatchewan should have known it was coming against Toronto. They’re just not good enough in that aspect. (I might have suggested this was important before the game).
– Speaking of Chamblin, he’ll be a head coach in this league again soon. I’m sure of it. He’s done a great job with the Argo defence this year. It might not be next year, but he’ll get there. Both he and the Riders have landed on their feet after their break up in 2015.
– The two quarterback thing worked in the regular season but next year the Riders need to pick their guy. I don’t know if Brandon Bridge will be an elite quarterback in this league, but the tools are there. If he’s back, he should be given a chance to run with it. If not, find a guy and go with them. The two goalie system has rarely worked in hockey when push comes to shove, neither did the two QB system.
– Officiating was a hot topic toward the end of the first half. A couple of iffy calls went against the Riders (the Knox call bothers me more than the pass interference). However, those calls did not decide the game nor did they change the game. After each call, the Riders had the Argos in second and seven and didn’t get stops. I’m not even going to talk about the “conspiracy” because to suggest anything like that is asinine. Other than those two calls, the rest of the game was fairly well officiated.
– It probably didn’t matter but I have no idea why Duron Carter lateraled the ball on what turned out to be the Riders final offensive play of the game. There was still time for a couple of more plays.
– I’ll be at Grey Cup Week, but I have to admit, of all the possible match ups heading into this weekend, Toronto/Calgary was the least interesting to me. Should still be a good week, hopefully, I’ll see some of you at the 3Down Get Down.