The West Semi-Final was key to Cody Fajardo’s legacy in Saskatchewan.
The career journeyman backup-turned-resident rock star on the prairies was in real danger of a winter of criticism, had the Roughriders blown that game. After the win, Fajardo looked like someone who was relieved.
“Absolutely. You lose a game where you throw four picks, that’s going to be a nightmare. That was going to be some mental problems for me. You find a way to win, guys were coming up to me and saying: ‘We win this game, nobody remembers the picks,” Fajardo said.
“I said: ‘Well they’ll probably remember them but winning the game definitely means more than what the statistics are.’ I texted my family after the game: ‘Screw the statistics. It’s all about the ‘W’ and that’s my mentality all year.”
“I could care less as long as we find a way to win a game and our team rallied around us, our defence played incredible. When one phase of the team is not doing well, you would hope the other two would pick them up and they did.”
“Not letting those turnovers turn to seven points, a lot of times they stopped them to a field goal. Sometimes we got one of the turnovers on a third-and-one which was huge and we got another pick so they did a great job.”
“Special teams made some electric plays. We had two kick returns for a touchdown, one got called back and had a huge onside kick. And then the offence found a way to pick everybody else up when we were down one point and we went down the field and we scored.”
It remains to be seen if the first playoff win in Fajardo’s holster will lead to a more relaxed and less uptight No. 7 for the rest of the playoffs.
No matter what happens in Winnipeg Sunday when the odds will be stacked against him considerably more than they were against Calgary, the face of the franchise will be breathing a little easier this off-season now that nobody can say he can’t win in the playoffs.
And for Fajardo, who made considerably less in 2021 than some other quarterbacks around the league such as B.C.’s Michael Reilly and Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell, who both finished behind his Riders in the standings and playoffs, that’s a pretty big thing for him and his agent thinking about free agency just over one year away.