The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ 30-24 loss to Toronto in the Touchdown Atlantic game

Photo courtesy: Ted Pritchard/ All rights reserved.

It was a big noon Saturday for the Riders as they travelled to Nova Scotia to take on the Argos in this year’s edition of Touchdown Atlantic.

Yet again, leaving the western part of the country proved difficult for the green and white as they fell 30-24 to the Argos, dropping them to 4-2 on the season. It was a loss they couldn’t really afford to suffer in what’s shaping up to be an extremely tight West Division.

Are the Riders firmly in the middle tier of the CFL right now? Probably.

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

The Good

For a game in which the Riders were missing much of their starting defensive line with Garrett Marino serving the first part of his four-game suspension and rush end A.C. Leonard being a late scratch, you’d probably suspect that the defence was a problem.

But, it wasn’t.

While I’m sure the defenders will still say they could have done more to help their team win, they were far from the reason why the Riders lost.

There’s no doubt that the unit did not have their best game of the year. Argos’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson had far more time than anyone along the defensive line would like to give him, and he made them pay for it at times. They also had a couple of busts on back-to-back plays in the second quarter, one of which led to a touchdown.

The unit settled down after that and played a fairly sold bend-but-don’t-break style. It wasn’t as impactful as we’re used to seeing from this unit, but given the personnel they had, defensive coordinator Jason Shivers deserves credit for making the most of his unseasoned group

Ultimately, this group needed the offence to win this game and they couldn’t do it.

The Bad

The offence got bailed out of showing up in this portion of my post-game column, as instead we’re going to talk about some extremely undisciplined nonsense once again.

In their first game since the Marino fiasco, you’d think the Riders would come into this game on their best behaviour looking to put all of that behind them.

Instead, before the game even started we had receiver Duke Williams — who was commended for his leadership last week — throwing a helmet at Argos’ defensive back Shaq Richardson. Video of the incident started circulating quickly on Twitter when it was posted by Ben Grant.

For some reason, the incident only got a quick mention from TSN early in the first quarter and they didn’t display the footage until nearly halfway through the opening quarter.

That was puzzling, but not as puzzling as why Williams was allowed to participate in the game at all. While we don’t really know the specifics of what happened prior to the game, throwing a helmet is a pretty serious offence and should have been treated as such by the officials.

Did the league not want anything to derail a marquee game on their schedule? Did they honestly think it wasn’t a big deal? Either way, it’s not a good look.

TSN’s Matthew Scianitti reported the league felt since it was over quickly, there would be no ejection. Boys will be boys certainly isn’t a good reason either.

Had the situation been handled properly, far more tomfoolery later in the game could have been avoided when there was another blowup between Williams and Richardson that ended in Richardson striking Williams in the head.

After the game, the Argos accused Williams of spitting on Richardson during both incidents.

None of this resulted in ejections or a flag.

You just knew that Williams and Richardson would have an impact on this game after all of this. Williams scored what was a game-tying touchdown and Richardson ended up with the game-ending interception.

Hopefully next week we can get back to football.

The Dumb

In the NFL, we often wonder what’s a catch? Right now, CFL fans are asking themselves, what’s roughing the passer?

We had a couple of strange instances of the call in this game, one I think the officials got right and the other they did not.

Early in the game, Cody Fajardo was sacked by Argos’ defensive lineman Shawn Oakman. It was a play that looked awkward as Fajardo went twisting to the ground, inflicting further damage to a knee that’s already injured and braced.

Dickenson challenged the play looking for roughing the passer as Oakman made contact with Fajardo low but it was more of a grab/wrap than a forceful hit as stated in the rule. The outcome was just unfortunate.

Later in the game, the Riders did get a roughing the passer call when Fajardo was hit late by the Argos’ defensive end Shane Ray. Normally, that’s a clear and easy call, but Fajardo was also called for an illegal forward pass as he was clearly over the line of scrimmage.

Can it be roughing the passer if the quarterback is no longer in a position to pass? I don’t know. It’s a weird play that probably shouldn’t have been penalized and we might not see again for a very long time.

Bonus Good

Thanks to the time difference between Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the game started at noon here in Regina.

I don’t know if it’s because we’re so conditioned to watching hockey at night — to the point where there are fans who complain about afternoon starts — but early afternoon starts are far superior.

More of them, please.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.