The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ 37-13 loss to Montreal

Photo: Paul Swanson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Insert standard “they weren’t going to go 18-0” line here.

The first loss of the season is always an eye-opener for a team and I think it’s fair to say that applies to this year’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, though it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It certainly wasn’t a surprise to me.

Even though many believed the Riders would win — some thinking easily — against Montreal, Saskatchewan was always going to be in tough coming off a short week where they travelled from Edmonton to Regina to Montreal. Taking into account that the Als had a whole week between games and that Montreal has been a tough place for the Riders to play at the best of times, a loss seemed likely.

Add in the fact that the Riders’ offensive line lost their best player last week and were starting a rookie at centre, and you had a recipe for disaster.

Had the Riders found a way to win, it would have said a lot about them. A loss showed what they need to work on, but there’s no reason for the team or the fan base to hit the panic button.

What happens next week against these same Alouettes will speak volumes.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb from the Riders’ first loss of the season.

The Good

Cody Fajardo didn’t get hurt.

The Bad

Where to begin?

Once again, the biggest concern for head coach Craig Dickenson has to be the number of times his team was flagged.

For the second week in a row, the Riders were flagged more than 10 times for over 100 yards. This time, they were penalized 12 times for 106 yards. Most of them came in the first half when the game was still somewhat in doubt. As the second half went on and the players went into self-preservation mode, the flags slowed down.

Despite all of that, I don’t think the coaching staff did their team any favours with some of their decision-making, most notably at the end of a long drive in the third quarter.

With the green and white down 20 points, Dickenson opted for a 20-yard field goal that made a three-score game — checks notes — a three-score game. Last week in a pretty similar situation, Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson went for it and was rewarded with a touchdown. They came back to win. The Riders gave up a pick-six on their next possession and it was lights out for them.

There’s no guarantee that the Riders would have scored there, but it was a moment to be aggressive in an attempt to get your team back into the game, not delay the inevitable.

Frankly, it was surprising to see given some of the aggressive decision-making Dickenson has shown through two games this year.

The Dumb

Luck is a big part of sports, no question about that. We saw both sides of that coin on Thursday night in Montreal.

Riders receiver Duke Williams now knows better than anyone just how fickle chance can be.

In the first half, Williams was able to bat down a pass that might have been intercepted — an important play on its own. From there, the ball took a lucky bounce for Duke and landed on him as he fell to the ground for a catch.

Late in the third quarter, luck decided it was done with the Riders when Williams — who was again falling to the ground as the ball was thrown to him — saw the ball bounce off him and into the arms of Marc-Antoine Dequoy, who took it to the house. It was that play that effectively ended the game.

What was particularly funny about these plays is that the CFL finally got around to posting the Williams catch to social media seconds after the ball bounced off the receiver for the interception.

I don’t know what took so long, as the interception was posted much quicker, but the timing certainly was funny, all things considered.