The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be hosting a home playoff game for the third straight year, clinching the West Semi-Final thanks to a 29-24 win over the Edmonton Elks on Saturday afternoon.
Undoubtedly the Riders got some luck, thanks to a rather iffy pass interference penalty call that negated a late interception thrown by Cody Fajardo. Had Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo not called his timeout a couple of plays before (which would have allowed him to challenge the call) or had it not been called in the first place, we might have had a different finish.
But, what’s done is done and no single call ever decides a football game.
Here’s the good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders home playoff-clinching win.
Are we seeing signs of what this offence might be able to do?
While it was still hardly a barn-burning performance, the Fajardo-led unit did finally crack the 21-point barrier for the first time since their 31-24 win over the B.C. Lions on September 24.
What we did see was the connection developing between Fajardo and onside recovery kick specialist Duke Williams.
Williams is the first Riders’ receiver the crack the century mark since Kian Schaffer-Baker did on Oct. 2 against the Calgary Stampeders. Williams finished the night with 146 yards (a season-high for the team) and a touchdown.
It wouldn’t be the Riders without things getting dicey at some point, and that came when Williams went down in the fourth quarter after what looked like a pretty nasty hyperextension of his knee. Luckily for Williams, Fajardo and the Riders, No. 14 trotted back onto the field not too long after.
William Powell was his usual reliable self as well with big plays at the right time when he exploded for a spectacular 23-yard play on the team’s final drive that put them instantly into field goal range.
If offensive coordinator Jason Maas and Fajardo can continue to keep Williams and Powell heavily involved, it could mean good things for the Rider offence. They might not ever be a unit that blows teams out, but if they can get 25-plus points per game from the unit, it should be enough.
And hey, we got a fullback touchdown in this game with Alexandre Dupuis getting his first career score in his 85th career game. I’ll never complain about that.
An old problem returned for the Green and White against Edmonton on Saturday.
While the raw number of penalties they took wasn’t a big problem for the team, they did take some untimely penalties at the worst time.
A holding call on Dan Clark negated a William Powell touchdown and an offside call on A.C. Leonard gave Edmonton another chance on second down deep in their own end when it had looked like they were going to be forced to punt.
More often than not, situations like that end up with the team being given a second chance so deep in their end scoring a touchdown. Luckily for the Riders, they were playing one of the league’s worst teams and they got away with it as Edmonton punted just a few plays later.
A bad penalty at the wrong time could end their season going forward, so it’s still an area they need to address.
Football is a sport where you are constantly seeing things you’ve never seen before.
This week, the Riders called a timeout before the start of the second half — like, way before the half was supposed to begin. TSN was still showing Fajardo warming up on the sideline when the timeout was announced by the officials.
Needless to say, it was strange. Especially from a head coach who likes to hang onto his timeouts for later in the second half for strategic reasons.
Dickenson told CJME’s Britton Gray after the game that he’s never had to do that before. He called the timeout because he didn’t have 12 guys on the field, as some were slow getting out and others were in the bathroom. Dickenson took some blame for perhaps not getting them ready sooner but needless to say, he wasn’t happy with what he called an “embarrassing” situation.
That alone was enough to make one raise an eyebrow, but then it got even better when head official Tom Vallesi *ahem* shared his thoughts presumably on the timeout.
— Rouge Radio Podcast (@RougeRadio) November 13, 2021
Tell us how you really feel, Tom.
Late in the game, a fan ran onto the field.
That’s not entirely unusual as it happens from time to time in the world of sports. While I don’t condone the action, it’s usually entertaining in one way or another, especially if American play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan is on the call.
In this case, the fan got their money’s worth making it all the way from the south end zone to the northwest corner and off the field without anyone chasing after them or touching them. A quick lap in the end zone near a security guard didn’t even draw much attention.
There are fines and possible jail time for running on the field during the game, but it almost feels like you should have to be caught on the field for that to happen.
It was something.