Riders beat the Als in fitting fashion on 80s night (and eight other thoughts)

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

There was no other way the Riders could have beat the Montreal Alouettes on a night where they honoured the 1989 Grey Cup Championship team, right?

Nearly 30 years ago, the Riders won that game off the foot of kicker Dave Ridgway (or the hold of Glen Suitor, depending on who you listen to.) On a night where the Riders honoured that team, it was Brett Lauther and Jon Ryan playing the part as Lauther’s field goal sailed through the uprights with less than one minute to go.

Lauther’s kick might not have been as vital to the team’s win had he not missed an extra point conversion and a field goal attempt earlier in the game. It was a rare off night for the place kicker who has basically been automatic since coming to Saskatchewan. However, like all great players, Lauther was able to shake it off and make the play when he absolutely had to.

Sometimes when a kicker has an off night there’s a nervous energy in the building right before a kick like that. Didn’t really get that sense here. Lauther had earned the trust of everyone through his performance the last season and a half.

There wasn’t beer this time, but in a way, that kick might feel even sweeter for Lauther, as he might have been wearing horns instead had his team not found a way to win.

I’m sure Ridgway knows the feeling.

Plugging the hole

One big story line coming into this game was how the Riders defence would perform against one of the league’s best running backs in William Stanback.

Chatter on social media wondered if Stanback would flirt with the single game rushing record. Hyperbole perhaps. A little premature for sure.

If you’ve listened to the 3Down Green Cast the last couple of weeks, one of my theories is the Riders run D struggled against Winnipeg because of uncertainty. If Andrew Harris was in the game, it’s easier (technically speaking) to plan to stop someone who you know is going to get a lot of touches. Without his star player, Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice had to keep the Riders guessing and did a good job of mixing things up.

Against Montreal, you knew the Als were hoping to give Stanback a lot of touches. He finished with just 12 carries for 57 yards, 4.8 yards per carry. My theory might still be out to lunch, but it held true against the Als.

It might have won them the game.

Odds and ends

– Naaman Roosevelt had one of his best games of the season. It wasn’t an eye-popping night for “The President” but he made several big catches at the right time. Roosevelt might not be the game breaker he once was but he’s a key possession guy for this team when they really need a catch.

– The Riders problems over the last few weeks weren’t nearly as worrisome against the Alouettes. They could still clean up the penalties a little but they were better at not taking bad penalties at the wrong time. There was a significant improvement in the second half as well. Their tackling was much better as well. I think the players got the message last week.

– I wonder if Craig Dickenson thought about going for two after his teams final touchdown of the game. Not because Lauther had missed a kick earlier or because it was a much better decision, but because Montreal had struggled to stop the Riders below the five-yard line all night. A converted kick would have made it a seven-point game, so I get it. The way the game was going it felt like an option though.

– I still don’t know how Shaq Evans hung onto that catch where he got hammered by two defenders.

– Nice to see Stephen McAdoo re-discover William Powell, even if Winnipeg did a good job taking him away the last two weeks, you still have to try.

– Vernon Adams Jr. is the real deal. His team didn’t win this game but it was through no fault of his own. Adams once again threw for over 300 yards and made good adjustments as the game went on.

Some chatter this week suggested it would say a lot about Adams if he could come into this environment and win. He played power five NCAA football, he’s used to difficult environments. He wasn’t going to be and wasn’t intimidated coming to Riderville. The Als have their guy.

– With Calgary winning earlier in the day, the Riders needed that win. Their schedule is about to get real tough, so every win they can bank is going to be important in an ultra tight west.