Friday night in Ottawa was a lot like Sunday afternoon in Regina for the Saskatchewan Roughriders: the only difference was the ending.
For most of the night, the Riders defence kept them in the game (though, they definitely had their issues, more on that in a bit), the cover units were strong, Josh Bartel was kicking the ball well, and the offence well… they were whatever the opposite of all of that is.
The offence was so ineffective, the green and white couldn’t even manage a single point in the first half. Something that’s hard to do in the CFL, especially against a weaker opponent. With the team playing on a short week and travelling across the country, it wouldn’t have been too surprising to see the defence get tired with how much time they had to spend on the field. That’s without even considering how well Ottawa ran the football for most of the night.
Instead, the defence hung tough once again and kept the team within striking distance. Unlike last week, the team got the spark they needed from somewhere else against the Redblacks. Christion Jones returned a kick for a touchdown, the defence forced a two and out and later recovered a fumble. Suddenly, the Riders had momentum and they never gave it back scoring 18 straight points to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Considering the West’s domination of the East this season, this was not a game the Riders could afford to lose as they battle for their playoff lives. Luckily for them, they pulled it out and right now, that’s all that matters.
Tomorrow, the corrections begin.
– It wasn’t exactly a banner night for Kevin Glenn. Whether it was the weather, his hand, or something between the ears, Glenn didn’t look strong for a second week in a row. His protection was better than against Calgary. It felt like he was very close to being pulled for Brandon Bridge, big plays by Duron Carter and Rob Bagg might have kept the veteran in the game.
– In a weird way, this feels like a fitting way for Glenn to get his 100th win.
– I can only imagine the reaction from Rider Nation if the Riders didn’t find the end zone when Vernon Adams Jr. was inserted into the game, again, near the goal line after Glenn and the offence finally found their way down the field. I still don’t like this move but Stephen McAdoo is definitely sticking with it.
– I imagine Trent Richardson will start against Toronto, Kienan LaFrance got some yards late but he might not have done enough to hang onto the starters job.
– Something has to be done about the run defence. It’s not overly surprising to see Jerome Messam have a strong game considering he generally always does against the Riders with Calgary’s strong offensive line and run game. William Powell is also a very good running back but rushing for 187 yards isn’t acceptable in any kind of way. The secondary and Willie Jefferson have been the strength of the defence, the rest of the front seven needs to step up soon or the book may be out on them. It looks even worse when Ottawa is without three starting linemen.
– That said, part of the reason the Riders were able to come back was the defence did eventually slow down Powell forcing Lindley to throw more on second down in long situations. It was ugly early, but they did figure it out. They’ll need more of that next week against Toronto.
– I love the rouge. The game-winning score came off the foot of Bartel, which seems to have caused a bit of a split on Twitter. I think it adds an extra layer of strategy and intrigue to otherwise mundane play. As soon as that ball ended up in the end zone, that feeling of “oh here we go” was there. The coverage was right there and in that moment, Ottawa could not just concede the single because the game was tied. Especially with their third string QB. Usually, you don’t want the rouge, but sometimes it is a good thing and that’s why it’s fun. #SayYesToTheRouge.