The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders 19-17 win over the Elks

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

I’m gonna be honest, I’m running out of things to say here.

The Riders won, it was ugly and not overly interesting to watch. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

In the end, it’s another notch in the win column and that’s really all that counts for the team. But, it feels increasingly like groundhog day around Rider Nation. Every game is different but every game is the same.

Even the ending has been the same the last three weeks with Duke Williams recovering the onside kick to end a game that was unnecessarily close.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders 19-17 victory over the Edmonton Elks.

The Good

They won.

The Good Part 2

OK fine, here are some other good things.

Cody Fajardo finally connected on an explosive play downfield when he found Duke Williams for 38 yards early in the second quarter — that had to feel good. The offence exploded for two big plays in three tries when Fajardo zipped one to Brayden Lenius for the touchdown. The whole series of events was so shockingly explosive that Brett Lauther missed his first convert attempt of the year.

We also saw probably one of the best punts in Saskatchewan in quite some time. Kaare Vedvik unleashed a 75-yard bomb in the fourth quarter that sent Elks returner Terry Williams scrambling to catch up. More impressive than the distance was the bounce and the hard turn it took out of bounds at the five-yard line. The Norwegian is already giving Jon Ryan a run for his money.

The defence was good again and defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy had a particularly strong game accented by a huge stick on the Elks two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to keep the game a two-possession game at the time.

The Bad

The trials and the tribulations of the offence are well known at this point, but here’s the thing: sometimes when you score is more important than how much.

As inefficient as the Riders offence has been this season, they’ve been presented with opportunities to put teams away and they haven’t been able to do it.

Three weeks in a row now, the Riders have made games unnecessarily interesting and some earlier in the season. This week, it wasn’t because of clock management that the Elks had a chance, things were fine there.

With just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius led his team on a pretty nice 75-yard touchdown drive to reduce the lead to 10 after a failed two-point conversion.

It happens, no big deal. It’s pretty hard to keep football teams out of the end zone for an entire game. This is where when you score can be just as important as how often.

The Riders, once again, had the opportunity to put the game away with a major, heck maybe even a field goal would have made the ending much less stressful. Instead, the green and white followed up the Elks score with a two-and-out.

While Edmonton didn’t instantly come back on their next possession and make the game closer, better teams probably would have. It’s something that very well could cost them a playoff game against teams like the Calgary Stampeders or the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Dumb

It’s not too often space in these columns gets dedicated to the Riders opponent but this game warrants it.

With one minute and 25 seconds left, Edmonton scored a touchdown to make it a four-point game. Traditionally, coaches will go for a one-point conversion in that situation.

Instead, Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo seemed to catch everyone, but yours truly, off guard by deciding to go for two. Dustin Nielson, Glen Suitor, and just about everyone on Twitter were wondering just what the heck Elizondo was thinking.

He was playing to win, that’s what he was thinking. It’s the right call, especially for a team that has just two wins on the season and doesn’t have much left to play for in the standings. So, why not?

Now, he then tried to change his mind after a pass interference penalty set his team up for an easier two-point try. Why? I have no idea, but the rules saved him.

Here’s the thing: yes, it’s easier to kick the convert and make it a three-point game.

Either way, you’re likely going to have to attempt an onside kick, which we know is a fairly low percentage play. So, if you do actually recover the kick, a field goal now wins you the game.

Why not give yourselves a shot at winning rather than playing for overtime where your odds are 50/50?

That’s exactly what Elizondo did and I applaud him for doing it. It’s the right thing to do and more teams need to start thinking like this. It’s evolving quickly in American college football and we’re starting to see more creative thinking like this in the NFL from time to time too.

Bonus Dumb

An Elks touchdown earlier in the game led to the moment of the game.

It was Canadian receiver Danny Vandervoort’s first-ever CFL touchdown in his fifth season and his celebration was something.

This is wonderfully dumb. You do you, Danny. You earned it.