The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders 33-30 West Semi-Final win over Calgary

Are you not entertained?

Y’all, it’s been a while but that was the game I’ve been waiting for. It would probably be easier to talk about what didn’t happen in that game rather than what did.

It was dumb, it was beautiful and it was extremely entertaining.

Was it well executed? Well no, but that’s not what we’re about around here. The 2021 West Semi-Final is one to be remembered and it’s a game the CFL badly needed at the right time.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders 33-30 West Semi-Final win over the Calgary Stampeders.

The Good

Very rarely will a quarterback who throws four interceptions in a game get praise, but that’s exactly what can be said about Cody Fajardo.

He threw for just 189 yards, and those four interceptions but sometimes doing the right thing at the right time makes all the difference and Fajardo did just that.

Late in the fourth quarter, Fajardo led the Riders on a big drive that ended in a touchdown with just under two minutes to go. It was a money series from a quarterback who definitely didn’t have the best night but ultimately made the plays when he had to.

While the game did end up going to overtime, that drive showed the side of Fajardo that has endeared him to Rider Nation. Despite throwing four interceptions, Fajardo’s confidence did not waver: he had the gunslinger attitude where he kept slinging and it eventually paid off.

Fajardo was also the Riders leading rusher running for 89 yards and one touchdown. That included a wonderful run where Stampeders defensive back Trey Roberson bit hard on a pump fake well past the line of scrimmage for 19 yards.

We saw a side of Fajardo that we haven’t seen much of this season, he willed the Riders to victory in the fourth and it felt familiar. A poor man’s performance of Darian Durant in the 2013 West Semi-Final, you could say.

This is the quarterback Fajardo is, he’s not going to put up gaudy numbers, but he’s gritty and finds ways to win — kind of like this team in general.

Will the Riders win the West Final if he throws four interceptions again? Extremely unlikely but on this night he got away with it and the organization led by general manager Jeremy O’Day and head coach Craig Dickenson got a badly needed playoff win.

The Bad

Yes, Fajardo needs to throw fewer interceptions, no doubt.

But there are more things the Riders should be worried about heading into the West Final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

First off, the run defence is going to have to be better. No matter who is running the football for the Blue Bombers, if the green and white give up another 100 yards to one guy along the ground, they’re probably going to have a bad time. Ka’Deem Carey rumbled for 117 yards and when you add in another 105 yards receiving for Reggie Begelton, that’s generally not a recipe for success.

But they got away with it and I’m sure they know it.

The good news for the team is the defence was bailed out with points generated by special teams and perhaps more surprisingly the offence. Something I wasn’t sure was possible coming into this game.

That could be good news for the Riders heading into a match-up with the heavily favoured Bombers.

The Dumb

This game was everything I had been waiting for all season in one night.

Honestly, what didn’t happen in this game? It was wildly entertaining for all the wrong reasons and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

All season I’ve lamented the lack of entertaining games in the CFL. This game was perhaps worth the wait as it went off the rails in a hurry and stayed there — it was wonderful.

Six combined interceptions, one muffed punt with a recovery, an onside kick recovery, a number of missed field goals, the game went to overtime and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting.

It was everything you could have asked for and more.

Well executed football is nice to watch, but there’s definitely something fun in the chaos that is sloppy football where all hell breaks loose. This game was definitely the latter and few sports on the planet can be as beautifully dumb as football and we got a perfect example of that on Sunday night in Regina.

If we can get three more games like this next week and the week after, bring it on.

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