Half-dozen Winnipeg turnovers not enough for Roughriders to smash through Blue Bomber ceiling

If Cody Fajardo were the Clark Kent of Riderville these days, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence would be his kryptonite.

For the record, Fajardo is not Superman and his Roughriders HAVE beaten the Blue Bombers before.

It ended with kicker Brett Lauther’s walk-off run alongside Jon Ryan to Mosaic Stadium’s Pil Country in the 2019 Labour Day Classic and then again later that season.

But since then, it’s been slim pickings for the green and white in this battle of the prairies and visits to IG Field have been especially cruel during that span, including three losses in which the Rider offence has averaged a measly 12 points per game.

In fact, those pesky Blue Bombers have now ended Saskatchewan’s run three years in a row, including the 2018 West Semi-Final, which predates both the Riders starting quarterback, Cody Fajardo, and its head coach, Craig Dickenson (who was still the team’s special teams coach at the time).

The good news is that Cody won’t have to put up with hurtful jokes about hitting crossbars this winter.

The bad news is that failing to capitalize on a game seemingly gift-wrapped to him by his defence in a match that just had to have been the biggest of his life might sting even a bit more.

To be absolutely fair, the Riders’ QB was correct to point out the wintry Winnipeg weather on a rare December playoff game day was a lousy fit for either offence.

“The conditions are tough and you can tell that obviously they turned the ball over for a reason because the conditions were hard,” said Fajardo. “It was hard for offensive football. I wish we would’ve scored more, we probably would’ve won the game.”

“To tell you the truth, that’s tough sledding out there for an offensive unit to go against extremely hard winds and snow and cold and it just favours the defence a little bit more, but I’m proud of our guys. We fought. We gave it everything we had. We had a chance to win the game at the end.”

“I’m in my second year as a CFL starter and to be in two West Finals, I’m going to hang my hat on that, but also my goal is to win a Grey Cup here for this organization and do everything I can.”

Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson was also surprised to see his unit win the turnover battle six-to-two and yet still come up short.

 

“We need to score touchdowns. That was a point of emphasis for us all year. Touchdowns, not field goals,” he said. “Credit to Winnipeg’s defence. They were able to firm up there when we got close and force us into field goals. We made a couple and missed one.”

“That’s just two heavyweights going at it and guys find ways to make plays to keep teams out of the end zone, so credit to Winnipeg on that. It’s unusual to see a team finish plus-four in the turnover battle and lose the game. It’s a credit to Winnipeg.”

There was plenty of evidence to suggest the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did not play their best game Sunday and they still got away with it.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders might have played their best game and still came up short.

That right there,  for Rider fans hoping this awful streak of taking a backseat to Winnipeg of all places ends soon, is a scary thought to ponder in the wake of yet another disappointing Roughrider playoff loss.

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