Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo had identified the open receiver and the throw looked like it was on target until the football bounced off the yellow uprights.
“The crossbar is 80 percent air, 20 percent iron and I hit it,” Fajardo said.
Saskatchewan receiver Kyran Moore worked free on Blue Bombers defensive back Nick Taylor.
“It’s a pretty sick feeling in my stomach, just the fact that the play didn’t get to be played out — when you hit the crossbar it’s a dead ball. I felt like we had a guy open,” Fajardo said.
“Everybody is a little bit [numb]. That lock room is hurting right now. We played good enough to win. We’re very disappointed. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, tomorrow’s a new day and as bad as we feel now it’ll get better,” head coach Craig Dickenson said.
It was third down from the eight-yard line after two pass plays went awry. Fajardo was sacked on first down and threw an incomplete pass on second down. Offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo put the ball in the hands of the West Division Most Outstanding Player.
“Never in the CFL in a game, but usually we play a crossbar game as quarterbacks and you try and hit it. That’s the one time you don’t want to hit it. It’s part of the game and you gotta be able to work around it,” Fajardo said.
“I just remember hitting that thing and the stadium was complete, dead silence and I could just hear the echo of the iron when the ball hit it. It was just a rush of emotions that went over me.”
Fajardo fell to the turf with hands on his helmet in disbelief as the Riders lost in dramatic fashion. Saskatchewan and Winnipeg played the first West Final between prairie rivals since 1972 while it was the green and white hosting for the first time since 2009.
“My heart just hurts for a lot of those guys,” Fajardo said.
The Riders outgained the Bombers on the ground and through the air, but the red zone failures did the team in. Saskatchewan couldn’t crack the end zone when it mattered most.
“But as an offence we didn’t deserve to win that game, we got down there inside the five three times and couldn’t score a touchdown,” Fajardo said. “When you play like that you don’t deserve to win.”