Dominant first quarter enough as Stamps down Riders

15 minutes was all it took for the Stampeders to amass enough points to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

After the first quarter at New Mosaic Stadium, the Stampeders had generated a 24-point lead on two touchdowns drives from turnovers, a 78-yard punt return TD scamper from Terry Williams and a penalty-aided return that started a drive in Rider territory.

But then the “No Lead Is Safe” nature of the CFL kicked in and the Riders would score the next 19 points of the game including a pick-six TD from the Rider defence that had to be reeling following the first quarter blitzkrieg.

The Saskatchewan ‘D’ did have what could have been a tide-turning interception in the third quarter that was wiped out due to a penalty for accidental pass interference on the play. One of nine penalties the Riders incurred totalling 90 yards.

A five-point deficit would be as close as the Riders would get though, as Calgary’s defence would again stand tall. The Stamps would add 10 second-half points to build on the lead finishing the game with a 34-22 win that I’m sure the coaches will be disappointed with.

Some other things that caught my eye include:

No fly zone

The Stampeders secondary is ridiculous. For the fifth straight game they allowed less than 200 yards passing. They have allowed more than 200 yards passing just once and that was against Jeremiah Masoli in Week 1. Newly minted coach Joshua Bell has his charges executing brilliantly right now and while the Labour Day matchup against Mike Reilly is still a long ways off, I’m salivating at the idea of seeing this defensive backfield go mano a mano with the team averaging the most passing yards on a weekly basis.

A short Bridge

Brandon Bridge isn’t allowed to throw the ball downfield. Or at least, that’s the way it looks from here. Down 24 points after the first quarter, Riders offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo seemed content to run his short gain offence for the rest of the game which generated some work for the boo-birds especially late in the game with the Riders backed up into their own territory. Bridge threw passes more than 10 yards just thrice all game, not including YAC. His depth of target was less than 10 yards on all but one of his completed passes. 14 of his completions saw the ball travel less than 5 yards downfield. If Bridge isn’t allowed to send the ball deep, defences can tee off on the underneath routes and choke off the offence. Which is exactly what the Stampeders did.

Effective Enough?

Last week Bo Levi Mitchell criticized the offence following a win over Montreal saying that the defence and special teams were “carrying our asses”. Following the wild first quarter, the Stampeders offence had trouble sustaining drives. The Stamps offence had one seven-play drive that ended in a field goal and the rest of the night they were on the field for five plays twice, four plays twice, three plays seven times including six two-and-out drives, and just a single play once. Those numbers do not include the kneeling drives at the end of the first and second half. The good news is that the Stampeders were able to generate 27 offensive points off those drives including the one play 41-yard touchdown to Marken Michel following a turnover in Sask territory. The bad news is that when the Stamps could have used a clock-killing grind-it-out drive late, they were unable to do so. This offence has been struggling the last few weeks and needs to get on the same page soon.

West test #1 passed

After opening the season with five straight games against East Division opponents, this was the first taste of West Division play for the Stamps. While I am certain, the coaches and players won’t be happy with the way they won here, the fact remains that they are two games ahead of every other Western team to this point in the season. Now one game into six straight against divisional opponents, the Stampeders are deep in the heart of the most important stretch of the year. Should they keep their winning ways alive, they might be able to clinch a playoff spot following a win on Labour Day. Before they get there though, B.C., Winnipeg and Saskatchewan will take another shot at the as yet undefeated Stamps.

A Hughes game for Charleston

There was no question that Charleston Hughes would be fired up for this one. Traded to Saskatchewan via Hamilton in the off-season, Hughes has made no secret of the fact that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder, especially when it comes to playing Calgary. Hughes now has eight sacks on the season, including two in this game, which puts him just behind the league record pace. James Parker had 26.5 sacks in 1984 although that was in a time where half sacks were awarded. Not sure if that would help or hurt Hughes at this time, but he needs to increase his pace a little if he wants to chase down the best ever in the category. Hughes also saved a touchdown in the fourth quarter with a tackle of Romar Morris, where Hughes stubbornly held on to the jersey of the running back, despite being dragged for several yards.

Next up for the Stampeders are the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium Saturday, Aug, 4th.

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