Riders get the job done against Montreal but it wasn’t pretty

There’s an old saying in sports: “they don’t ask how, just how many.” More often than not, it’s true. This week for the Riders, the how mattered and they looked like a team that has plenty of work to be done ahead of the playoffs.

Yes, when all was said and done, the Riders ended up blowing out the Montreal Alouettes. Something they should have done and did end up doing. It certainly didn’t look that way for a good portion, especially in the first half. The Green and White took 11 penalties for 100 yards, Bakari Grant fumble a ball at the goal line when he should have had a touchdown, and even though the Riders started on Montreal’s side of the field basically all night, it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that they finally pulled away. The way the game played out, it should have been over at halftime if the Riders were playing at their best.

Is it possible the Riders took their weak opponents lightly after beating the first place team in their own barn the week before? Perhaps. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time a team suffered a let down after such a big win the game before.

The mental errors made by the home team probably would have sunk them against just about any other team.

The good news for Saskatchewan is they got away with on Friday night because they were facing the worst team in the league. The Als said “hold my beer” and took 158 yards worth of penalties, turned over the ball on downs deep in their own territory and only mustered up 231 yards of total offence.

There’s another old saying in football: you never look as good on film as you did in victory. There’s no question about that for the Riders this week. They now have one week to get it right before the bright lights of the playoff shine.

Game thoughts

– One guy who will look good on film after a big game is Chad Owens. The veteran was supposed to be the team’s main returner this year, instead, he’s made things tough for the coaching staff heading into the playoffs. Owens had a game high 114 yards receiving building off a strong debut last week in Calgary. It’s hard to justify taking Owens out of the line up with Naaman Roosevelt set to return next week. It will be interesting to see how the team juggles the roster.

– Trent Richardson had his best game in professional football in a very long time. Richardson looked like a big power back rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns. A big chunk of those yards came late as the Riders killed clock, which is exactly when you want a back like him to take over. The storybook ending was taken away though as Richardson left with what looked like an ankle injury. That wouldn’t have seemed like a big deal a few weeks ago but now it might be.

– I have to believe the plan was to give both Kevin Glenn and Brandon Bridge time against Montreal. When Glenn was originally pulled, it didn’t feel like the other times with the offence clearly getting off to a slow start. With the playoffs right around the corner, and Jones not afraid to use either quarterback, giving both guys some time isn’t the worst idea. It was good to see Vernon Adam’s Jr. get some time late, but all he did was hand off or run, so we can’t really read anything into it. If only there was a way to get Marquise Williams into the game too.

– Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor had an on-going discussion surrounding the Riders nominee for most outstanding defence player. Is it Willie Jefferson or Ed Gainey? At one point, the answer was clearly Jefferson but Gainey now has 10 picks on the season, the Riders only had 11 as a team last year. Gainey was my choice last season and now he might have passed Jefferson. Either way, there isn’t a wrong answer here.

– The Als offensive line is bad. Like, really bad and their receivers aren’t helping anyone out.

– Bravo Rider Nation for giving Darian Durant a standing ovation before the game. There was no doubt in my mind that it would happen but it was still nice to see. Of course, anything was fair once the game was on.

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