The Montreal Alouettes sack squad gave the Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive line more than it could handle and then some in the Riders 19-14 win in Montreal.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo was sacked a half-dozen times, the first instance the Rider hogs of this year have given up so many. Going against arguably the best pass-rush in the league, Fajardo swears it was totally expected.
“We knew I was going to have to get hit this week. It never feels good to get hit, but I have all the faith in the world in the offensive line.” Fajardo said.
“They’re trying to figure it out. Montreal is incredibly good at rushing the passer. I believe they are the first defence in quarterback sacks.”
To be fair, after Saturday’s game, the Alouette defence continues to lead the league in quarterback takedowns with 44. If Fajardo was frustrated with having so little time to throw the football or all of the hits he’s been taking, he isn’t showing it.
“Early on in the week, coach [offensive coordinator Jason] Maas came to me and said: ‘Look, you’re going to have to stand in there and take some shots and deliver the ball.’ And that’s kind of how this game played out.”
The Rider o-line had plenty of question marks coming into the season but appeared to quell all of that with a perfect 3-0 start when Fajardo enjoyed solid pass protection. That all changed in back-to-back losses to Calgary in October when the front was heavily maligned.
“It was difficult out there but we found a way to move the ball when we had to,” Fajardo said. “Found a way to milk the clock when we had to and put points on the board, giving us a two-possession game, not really letting it get really tight until the end, there.”
Fajardo admits it was an ugly win but isn’t going to complain about anything after clinching a playoff spot.
With new star receiver Duke Williams and recovered-from-injury Shaq Evans in the fold, the Riders appear to have solved one weakness only to be hampered by another.
It remains to be seen if the green and white will stick it out with who they’ve got or perhaps even reach out to currently retired Canadian offensive guard Brendon LaBatte to add some badly-needed depth before the post-season.