Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

It was about a pretty as a pig pen after feeding time but the Riders found a way to win their sixth straight, downing the Bombers 19-17 in the annual Labour Day weekend game.

The win was the Green and White’s 14th win over their Manitoba neighbours in their last 15 September holiday weekend meetings.

It was a win and that’s about what there is to be said. So, here’s a bunch of random thoughts on what happened in no particular order of importance.

It shouldn’t have been close

Like last week against the Ottawa Redblacks, the Riders started the game fast. Unlike last week, they didn’t take advantage of it.

They created an early turnover and played a good portion of the first half deep in Bomber territory. They only got one major out of the deal, which ironically enough came after Winnipeg conceded a safety to try and get some field position back (which made it a nine point drive, don’t concede safeties kids.)

The Riders probably should have rushed out to a 21-0 lead and put Winnipeg away early.

Instead, it was a one-score game at the half.

Then it got worse

Safe to say the second half was the worst the Riders have played since that blowout loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

They regularly let Winnipeg off the hook with bad penalties (104 yards in penalties total) and missed tackles to extend drives, many of the coming with the Bombers in second and long.

They got a play from defensive back Louchiez Purifoy to sniff out one of those drives. A major probably could have ended the game there, instead the Riders gave it right back with an interception from Winston Rose.

Luckily for them, Winnipeg was about as good at closing drives as the Riders were.

The entire thing culminated with a quarterback sneak touchdown from Chris Streveler that gave Winnipeg their first lead with fewer than four minutes to go.

Usually, that’s where these kinds of scripts end. Team misses big opportunities early, other team finds way to win late.

Except they didn’t

In the end, the Riders found a way to pull this one out of the fire, even though it didn’t look great.

After the ensuing kick-off, the Riders again blasted off another toe by taking a holding penalty, forcing them to start a potential game-winning drive from their own five-yard line. Against one of the league’s best defences.

Gut check time.

Like he has time and time again this season, quarterback Cody Fajardo seemed to have the right stuff at the right time. He quickly got the Riders out of the shadow of their own goal posts with passes to Kyran Moore, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Shaq Evans and Naaman Roosevelt.

The Riders were moving and then they remembered they had William Powell (he wasn’t featured much before the game’s final drive). The big running back essentially closed out the game from there with a pair of big 11-yard runs to set up kicker Brett Lauther’s game winning field goal.

It was again elation in Rider Nation.

Good teams find ways to win games that they probably shouldn’t have. Even if they should have won with the way things went in the first place.

Odds and ends

  • In terms of directional punting, that was probably Jon Ryan’s best game. His one rouge easily could have stayed out with the right bounce. It happens. Otherwise, he was on point and his leg helped the Riders out of a few tough holes.

 

  • Even though he made some good plays early, the Riders made some pretty good adjustments on Willie Jefferson and kept him in check for a good portion of the second half. Not easy to do.

 

  • Craig Dickenson made a few rookie coaching errors. The challenge just a few minutes into the game on a pass that Roosevelt did not catch wasn’t a good one. Luckily for him the lack of a challenge for essentially an entire game didn’t cost him. Neither did the lack of a second time out when he used one before the Bombers gave up a safety.

 

  • It appears Lauther had some fun after the game-winning kick channeling his inner Jon Gott. I believe the CFL made a rule change on this one, so Lauther may face a fine or some kind of slap on the wrist for pounding a brew in the crowd but whatever.

  • This game was the Ridersè first sell-out of the season. It’s safe to say there was an uptick in blue apparel this year as well, which makes sense. This game had the most combined wins between these two teams at this point in the season.

  • This win might not satisfy the “Riders haven’t beat anybody” crowd considering who the Bombers are missing and will continue to miss, but they continue to win. That’s really all that matters. I think this Winnipeg team is still somebody because that defence is darn good and Paul LaPolice is getting enough out of that short-staffed offence to win games.
Comments

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.