Defence to the rescue: Riders beat Edmonton in familiar fashion

Once again, the Riders found a way to win thanks to their defence.

I tried to come up with something different to write about this game, but there isn’t much else to say.

So much so that your’s truly even joked following Zach Collaros’ extremely ugly interception with just over three minutes left that perhaps it was on purpose to get the team’s best unit on the field and hope for the pick-six.

A few minutes later, Willie Jefferson was on his way to the end zone and eventually crossed the goal line (more on that in a bit) to give the Riders their 10th win of the season. A win that basically all but locks up their first home playoff game since 2013 and the first at the new Mosaic Stadium.

It’s nothing new for the Riders defence to carry the team to victory, we’ve seen it time and time again this year but this win was 100 per cent theirs.

The Riders usual dependable special teams had an interesting game with kicker Brett Lauther missing back-t0-back field goals, which would have been a bigger story had Jefferson not intercepted Reilly. Punter Josh Bartel, who was playing in his 100th CFL game had a couple of kicks he would probably like to have back. Given the special teams track record, they should rebound and be fine.

Offensively, once again, their biggest problem was finishing drives. Before the Jefferson interception, Collaros’ crew crossed mid-field eight times and managed just three converted field goals. If the Eskimos weren’t a mess, this game might have been over long before it was. Given their track record? Well… don’t expect much. Last week against Montreal appears to be the blip.

As the final whistle went the Riders found another way to win a football game they probably shouldn’t have. Over the course of time, these sorts of things tend to even themselves out. When? Who knows? Either way, that’s a problem for future Riders. Right now, they’ve put themselves in a position to possibly do something special.

Game Thoughts

Over the last few weeks, I had wondered if the defence was starting to wear down a bit. It’s safe to say those thoughts were greatly overblown. The defence had one of their best games of the season in a game where the team badly needed it. Five sacks, one forced fumble and three interceptions should be enough to win you just about any game going away with even an average offence. That’s a promising sign ahead of the final few games.

Much will be made about Jefferson’s run after the interception. I’m generally not a stick in the mud over these sorts of things, his celebration in Winnipeg didn’t bother me at all. This time there was certainly valid reasons to run out some more clock there.

Is Jefferson now in the running for the Riders most outstanding defensive player nominee? His case certainly is building.

The enigma that is Nick Marshall continues. In the first half, Marshall was beaten for a long pass and took an unnecessary roughness penalty (yes there could have been a flop there but don’t put two hands on a guy like that and it’s probably not called). As Marshall does though, he follows it up with one of the nicer interceptions we’ve seen this season. He’s been good but his game needs to round out a little more.

If S.J. Green is on the market, Chris Jones should probably inquire.

A few weeks ago, receiver Shaq Evans had what could be described as an interesting game. Some credit where it’s due, since then Evans has been solid.

Discipline was another big problem for the Riders. 11 penalties were accepted for 110 yards. If that’s the product of the importance of this game, then Jones needs to make sure his players learn from it. You want to be up for the biggest games but keep it under control.

This was the first game at Mosaic Stadium that wasn’t a sell-out since early in the season when the Riders looked like a mess, despite its importance. Don’t need to move the schedule up, though.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
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Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (183 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.