Over the last month, it’s been easy to forget that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are still building toward better times, the team and it’s rabid fan base got that reminder on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium.
For much of the day, the Riders were unable to much of anything on offence, en route to a 19-14 loss in the second last ever Rider game at the current Mosaic Stadium.
Whether it was the weather, Montreal’s defence, the Riders themselves, or some combination of all three, the home team looked like the team they did for the first half of the season. Two-and-outs were the theme from the offence. For the seventh time this year, the Green and White failed to score a point in the first quarter, luckily for them, the defence did their part and kept them in it. Something that didn’t happen the last time these teams met in La Belle Province. At the half, the Riders, who aren’t exactly sack happy, had more sacks (six) than first downs (4). That’s something that’s more or less unheard of in football.
Things did get better as the game went on, but it was too little too late as the Riders couldn’t complete a fourth quarter comeback. It was another loss in Rider history to a quarterback making their debut in the CFL. It’s just one of those things that seems to happen. Fitting for the final season at Taylor Field that there’s another, I suppose.
The Riders are still a better team than they were earlier in the year, but they showed us there’s still plenty of room to grow.
As mentioned, the major difference this week compared to their meeting earlier in the year in Montreal was the defence. Six sacks is the most the team has registered in a game all season, it more or less represents output for much of the first half of the season. The Als did adjust well though as the defence was unable to take down Vernon Adams Jr. who also showed some great escapability. The way the game was going, the Riders could have used another turnover, a couple of drops by DBs end up picked off and it could be a different game. Willie Jefferson and A.C. Leonard led the way with three tackles and two sacks each.
I don’t like to talk about officiating in this space as there’s always so many other things that decide a game. I would like to hear an explanation as to how there was no flag on the final play of the game when Winston Venable nailed Joe McKnight along the sideline.
— Drew Edwards (@scratchingpost) October 22, 2016
I looked through the CFL’s rule book online and it seems the head-shot it self wasn’t illegal (which is another matter), as I could see why it could be seen that McKnight wasn’t in vulnerable position, but Venable, in my opinion, launches himself using his helmet to initiate contact. Which should be a flag, based on this, no?
In the heat of the moment, mistakes are made, and there’s certainly no guarantees that Riders would have gone on to win the game anyway with the extra play, nor did it cost them the game. It just seems like a pretty bad miss for a sport that is trying to become safer, unless the league can prove otherwise. (Also, the CFL needs to learn that it’s impossible for someone to “leave their feet,” the feet haven’t gone anywhere.)
McKnight had himself another game as he continues his “interview” for next season. In his second game, McKnight combined for 143 yards of offence (62 on the ground and 81 through the air). He did have a fumble though but bounced back nicely after the error.
Statistically, it was a day to forget for Darian Durant. Doubles came on strong late but it was too little too late. He’s still their guy next year and one game doesn’t affect that. There’s been some discussion of Durant’s overall performance this season being below expectations, and that’s not entirely wrong, but given the circumstances he’s done okay. The most important thing was Durant play most of the season, which he’s done. After a year and a half on the shelf, with a new system which is apparently quite complicated, a number of first year receivers, there was going to be ups and downs. Durant will be the first to tell you he can and will be better, but as a whole, it’s been a solid year for Durant.
It was a miserable day in Regina as the rain basically didn’t stop the entire game. The team sold over 30-thousand tickets for the game but there were, understandably, a number of no-shows. Credit to everyone who stuck around to the end, hopefully you don’t pay for it this week.