It wasn’t necessarily a memeable moment, but Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo admitted he pulled a Tom Brady.
Brady infamously forgot which down it was in a loss against the Bears and Fajardo did it in a win versus the Redblacks.
Late in that Week 4 game during the 2020 NFL season, Brady threw a long pass down the middle which went incomplete. He stayed on the field, looked to the sideline while holding up four fingers and appeared to say: “fourth down.” Brady thought he had another play to move the chains but his team turned the ball over on downs to Chicago.
With less than three minutes to go in the first half at Mosaic Stadium in Week 3, Fajardo threw a long pass to Regina native Brayden Lenius. It resulted in a 31-yard gain — the longest completion of the season so far for Saskatchewan — and moved the chains for the Roughriders.
“I pulled a Tom Brady there. I forgot it was third and three, I thought it was second and three. Having Lenius with his size on a free safety, I felt like that was a good matchup to try and stretch the field when they’re expecting a quick pass,” Fajardo said.
Forgetting what down it was didn’t cost Fajardo a loss which was the result for Brady. That completion to Lenius led to a field goal in a convincing 23-10 win. The Riders didn’t need to pull off a last minute comeback like Brady. With the play happening in the middle of the game instead of the end, it wasn’t as magnified.
“That’s my favourite play that coach [Jason] Mass called, I feel really comfortable with it. I think that was our first 50-50 ball that we caught down the field. Hopefully the floodgates open up after that because it was tough sledding to get some deep balls down the field,” Fajardo said.
Saskatchewan’s franchise QB connected with Lenius for two 30-yard gains in the ball game, the first two chunk plays through the air in 2021 for the green and white. Fajardo has been completing passes at a high rate — 79 percent — during the his first three outings in the offence devised by coordinator Jason Maas.
“Completing the ball at a high percentage makes me feel really good about the hard work I put in all off-season for 18 months,” Fajardo said.
“It’s something I really focused on during training camp, I feel like I understand defences better. I really made it a focal point to hash out the playbook.”
Fajardo completed passes to nine receivers against Ottawa. One of his favourite components of the Maas offence is being able to spread the ball around. That way teams can’t just hone in on one or two receivers and shutdown the offence.
“I’m not afraid to throw to anybody. If you’re on the field, you’re an eligible receiver and you’re open, I’m going to try and get you the ball,” Fajardo said.
“These games give me a lot of trust that in tough situations they’re going to catch contested catches with the game on the line. I love how dynamic our offence is in terms of anybody could get the ball.”
All of Fajardo’s targets were happy to be involved, especially in a win to improve to 3-0 heading into the bye week. Fajardo planned to spend time with his wife Laura, attend charity events within the community and hit the links around Regina.
“Hopefully I can golf, I got my clubs up here, so hopefully I can go out and play some golf, I haven’t golfed in a longtime. Enjoy God’s beauty of the earth and play some beautiful courses here in Saskatchewan,” Fajardo said.
“I’m about an 85, 82 to 85 — I can play with anybody. I golfed one time in 2019 at Aspen Links. Now that we have a week, hopefully playing some of the nicer courses in Saskatchewan.”
The verdict is out as to whether Fajardo is better than Brady on the golf course, however it’s now proven he’s better at forgetting downs but still being successful and completing passes.