Gasson: Of course the Riders beat Calgary

Of course the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Calgary Stampeders, it’s what they do.

I don’t necessarily mean that beating the Stamps is the Riders thing, though that win did give them the season series against their rivals from Southern Alberta and they probably could have won all three games against Calgary if not for a monumentally disastrous first quarter in the Stamps only win over the green and white this year.

What I’m talking about is after another week where the circus came to town following a 31-0 loss to the Blue Bombers, a few key injuries and Charleston Hughes’ DUI charge and will he or won’t he play routine: the Riders found a way to win.

It’s what they do.

There’s been wins like this littered throughout Rider history, especially during the Chris Jones era. You don’t have to look even beyond this season. It was just earlier this year the Riders suffered an embarrassing home loss to the then-winless Montreal Alouettes, Duron Carter got torched on defence that day by Jeff Matthews, yes that Jeff Matthews. They had a short week ahead of facing the red-hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats with one of the league’s best offences. It was a week of chaos around Saskatchewan. They won. It’s what they do.

I even hinted at the possibility that the Riders might win this game in my piece earlier this week surrounding the Riders injuries and in the 3DownNation weekly picks. I just didn’t think that Calgary would lose two games in a row at home. It appears the Riders ability to win with the circus in town is greater than Calgary’s ability to win at home.

In all honesty, the score in this one ended up flattering the Stampeders, as the Riders probably put together their most complete game of the year. A couple field goals turn into touchdowns and Calgary was never really in the game.

So, the Riders also made it interesting, it’s also what they do. Along with winning games few think they will.

Game Thoughts

Many will be breathing much easier across Saskatchewan now as the Riders have given themselves some breathing room once again in the race to host a home playoff game. They also kept slim chances of hosting the West Final alive, though that will require some help still. As disjointed as Calgary is right now with so many different receivers being forced in and out, I have a hard time believing they will lose four in a row to end the year. But as Jim Carey said in Dumb and Dumber, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

If the Riders are going to win the Grey Cup, that’s the kind of game they need. Long offensive possessions, stout defence, timely turnovers and strong special teams (minus the one return). They’re not going to blow anyone away, but they can slow teams down and shorten the game.

Is there something in Chris Jones’ system that is giving Calgary a hard time? They’re now 3-1 in their last four games against the Stamps.

The Riders offence had their best game of the year, by far. They might have put up better numbers against Montreal and Toronto, but you know. Calgary offered up a real defence and they played their possession game to perfection. Zach Collaros and company had the ball for basically nine minutes longer than Calgary. That’s an eternity in the CFL. You can chalk that up to the Riders insane 15 play, eight-minute drive in the second quarter. Those are generally NFL-type drives that you see with four downs and a 40-second clock.

It would have been nice to see some of Brett Lauther’s five field goals turn into touchdowns to put the game away, but they still got the job done. The positive is Lauther is clearly back on track.

Patrick Lavoie has certainly felt like a missing piece on offence for this team. A versatile Canadian that can block, run a route and make a key catch when you need one. Not sure if we’ve seen a fullback screen all year until this game.

The adjustments being made on the offensive line were certainly felt. Brendon LaBatte deserves huge marks for his work at centre, sometimes helping both of his guards at the same time, but the drop off from him and Bladek at guard to St. John and Blake is noticeable. Calgary’s defence certainly deserves some credit too, but the Riders generally don’t give up sacks like they did today. Something to keep an eye on.

It would be interesting to see what adjustment the Riders made on the run. Don Jackson had a pretty productive first quarter for Calgary, seeing the ball six times. He only saw the ball six times the rest of the game. Mic’hael Brooks was a big loss for the Riders run defence. Did they find something that worked or did Calgary abandon the run? (Something they’ve seemingly done against the Riders quite frequently.) TSN made a big deal about the Hughes absence, understandably, but Brooks is still a bigger loss.

Speaking of TSN, they’ve had better weeks. The on-field lines were all over the place and there were a lot of shots of nothing. Was there a bunch of new people working? Either way, I think a discussion is warranted soon on the quality of the league’s current broadcasts: has there really been any major changes and advancements in the last number of years?

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