Stamps bye week streak ended by Riders

After 17 straight regular season victories following a bye week, dating back to 2005, the Stampeders finally fell, and in convincing fashion to the Roughriders Sunday night by a 40-27 score.

It was a game that featured a number of uncharacteristic things for a Stampeders team that fell to 7-1 on the season. It was uncharacteristic enough, that as someone who has taken several mandatory courses for my son’s minor sports programs over the years, I decided to observe the “24-hour rule” before sitting down to write my thoughts:

Another Rider pick six

Speaking of streaks, the Riders are on one of their own against Calgary as, for the third straight game, they intercepted Bo Levi Mitchell and took it to the house. This time it was Nick Marshall who scored for the defence, taking the ball 67 yards to pay-dirt. It put a defensive exclamation point on a quarter where the Riders allowed just six passing yards. Quite the opposite result from the last time these two teams met, when the Stamps led by 24 at the first quarter break.

Eguavoen breaks through

Both the Stamps and the Riders were coming off bye weeks and special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson saw something on the film he could exploit. His scheme allowed for Sam Eguavoen to get through the Stamps line, block the punt off Rob Maver’s foot, recover the bounce perfectly, and stroll into the endzone for a TD. Given the situation, with Calgary having found their sea legs and scoring on the previous drive, the Eguavoen score felt like a real gut punch to the momentum Calgary was attempting to build.

Stamps D still stands tall

Yes, the Roughriders scored 40 points. However, they only scored one offensive TD, and it was on a drive that started on the Calgary 30 after a sack/forced fumble from Charleston Hughes got the Riders the ball. Otherwise, the Stampeders defence held the Riders to field goals, of which Brett Lauther went a perfect 6-of-6 for a total of 25 offensive points. If not for the two TD’s coming from special teams and defence for Saskatchewan, I might have been writing a very different column today.

Singleton still swarms football

Alex Singleton had five tackles on the night to move to 50 total defensive stops on the season. When adding opponent rush and pass attempts, that means that Singleton is making the tackle 12.4 per cent of the time the opposition has attempted to gain yards on the Stampeders. Comparing that to Adam Bighill, who is playing phenomenal football this season and is being touted by some as the defensive player of the year for Winnipeg, the Blue Bomber middle linebacker has 57 tackles for 11.5 per cent of his team’s total and Henoc Muamba has 58 tackles for a 10.35 per cent tackle rate. Singleton also adds four special teams tackles to his resume. Singleton is ball-hawking at an elite level again this year.

Riders dominate line of scrimmage

Riders 5 – Stamps 0. That was the final sack total in this game as Chris Jones threw everything including the kitchen sink at the Stampeders offensive line who saw Shane Bergman leave early with vertigo. It was the second straight game that the Stamps have gone without a sack and the total number from the Riders took the Stamps from first to third in the loop for lowest sacks allowed total, now at 14. Saskatchewan is now first in that category having given up just 10. Those sacks are costly on any drive, as the league-wide success rate for touchdowns on a drive where a sack is allowed is just four per cent.

Jones wears green

Chris Jones took part in the Diversity is Strength campaign this week, donning a green T-shirt over his traditional black get-up. This isn’t news, but you sure wouldn’t know it from the reactions in the CFL Twitterverse…..

Big plays for major scores

In an article last week, I bemoaned the Stampeders red zone percentage but noted that several of their TD’s were scored from more than 20 yards out. They continued the trend this week as Mitchell threw for four touchdowns from 54, 32, 29, and 17 yards respectively. The Stampeders managed four offensive TD’s on the night while only entering the red zone once. The Stampeders still lead the league in “big plays” defined as 20-plus yard rushes or 30-plus yard passes or long kick and punt returns (oddly not defined) with 29 total. When Bo gets time, he has no problem hurling it downfield and averages just under three “big play” completions a game.

Winning covers warts

For the last several games, the Stampeders were winning without being happy about the way that they played. Now, they will come into this week’s practices feeling a loss for the first time. The bad news is that they lost, the good news is that it came in the heart of the season, rather than the playoffs and it took uncharacteristic football for it to happen. It also needed a special teams TD and a defensive TD. These aren’t common occurrences. However, I expect that the message from the coaches will differ slightly.

The Stamps will need to refocus quickly as they face the team that Josh Smith described as “the most complete team in the CFL” recently, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home for their Diversity is Strength game. Stampeder legends Herm Harrison and John Helton are being honoured as the players on the back of this year’s shirts.

It is also Family Day at McMahon and Dora the Explorer is expected to attend.

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