For the first time since 2013, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have moved to 2-0 on the season with a 30-8 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Riders were in control most of the night as the near-consensus Grey Cup favourites once again did not look like themselves en route to falling to 0-2 on the season.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb from the Riders’ Week 2 win.
Once again, the Riders maybe didn’t play their best football but stayed in it mentally and did what it took to get the win.
There were moments in the game where Hamilton easily could have got back into it, instead, the team rose to the occasion. The best example of that was early in the third quarter after returner Marcus Murphy muffed a punt right back to the Ticats around mid-field.
It was a moment in the game where the Ticats could have made the second half very interesting. Instead, the defence trotted back onto the field and shut the door with a pair of sacks by defensive linemen A.C. Leonard and Jonathan Woodard, who finished the night with three QB takedowns.
The Riders kept control of the game at that point and never gave it up.
Can we talk about the offensive line for a bit?
A lot was made about the group tasked with protecting quarterback Cody Fajardo following some big departures and injuries coming into this season.
While there’s still a long way to go, the unit had to deal with further changes with Brett Boyko unable to play, who wasn’t even supposed to be their starting left tackle a few weeks ago. They were down to Andrew Lauderdale.
Thanks in part to the play-calling of offensive coordinator Jason Maas and Fajardo’s legs, the unit was able to keep their pivot upright most of the night. The offensive line was also able to impose their will on the Tabbies late in the game when running back William Powell rushed for most of his game-high 89 yards.
While I’m not going to proclaim them one of the league’s top units, they certainly have been good enough through two games.
The bad part of this game is pretty straightforward for the Green and White.
I think if you told Rider fans the team would be guilty of committing 22 penalties for 187 yards, you’d probably expect that in their first game in 600-plus days. Instead, the onslaught of penalties came this week and boy was it ugly.
The Riders certainly gave the Ticats opportunities to stay in this game with some drive-extending penalties and some that put the home team deep in their own territory after a change of possession.
You can’t even nail down the team for one specific type of infraction committed. From offsides — more on that in a second — to unnecessary roughness, procedure calls, and more. The Riders were called for it all and they know they’ll have to be better going forward to compete when it matters most.
Let’s talk about offside a little bit more.
There’s absolutely no reason why a defender should ever lineup offside when the ball is on the one-yard line.
How about three times in one series? That happened to the Riders against the Ticats, including one time that took a turnover off the board. If that turnover stood, Hamilton might not have scored a touchdown at all in the game.
I don’t get it. There’s literally a giant, thick white line that shows you where you cannot cross.
As dumb as that was, it was a wild night for the officials in general. None of the calls were particularly bad, but it was a mess. Way too many conferences and discussions with little explanation as to what was going on.
Particularly, before the half, there was a very long discussion about a pair of flags that did not matter at all as the half had ended. Then later in the third quarter, a skirmish broke out and it took way too long for everything to get sorted out.
If the CFL wants to keep people interested in their product, these long delays have to be avoided as much as possible.