It was “lights out” night at Mosaic Stadium as the Saskatchewan Roughriders hosted the Edmonton Elks and, in hindsight, they probably should have just kept the lights off.
The Riders had probably their worst and more embarrassing loss of the 2022 season, and they kept Edmonton’s playoff hopes alive, however slim they may be.
If you needed any evidence that momentum isn’t a thing that travels from game to game then look no closer than this one. Despite basically the entire team dealing with food poisoning last week, the Riders somehow managed to look better against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, while the Elks were coming off two blowouts at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders.
Last week, the Riders literally had it coming out both ends. This week, they did so metaphorically.
The Green and White now head into their bye week with a lot of soul searching to do.
The post-game fireworks were pretty good and the light show throughout the game was well done, I don’t know.
There isn’t much to say here.
Kaare Vedvik’s had a strong game punting and long-snapper Jorgen Hus was as reliable as ever.
Basically, everything was bad.
As far as bad, demoralizing losses go, this one has to be at the absolute top for this year’s edition of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After roaring out to a 10-0 lead and looking like a team that for once might make life easy on themselves and pull away, they fell flat on their face for the rest of the night until their second-last offensive drive of the game.
Had the Riders been playing anyone else in the West Division, Toronto, and maybe Montreal, they would have lost this game by many touchdowns. Ottawa and Hamilton would have made it interesting.
The Elks had a whopping 12 penalties for 158 yards. That alone should have been enough for the win. Some of those penalties, like a roughing the kicker call to keep another failed drive alive, usually give the opposition life and lead to points. But no, not the Riders on this night.
A.J Allen blocked a punt in the third quarter, another moment that tends to give teams life and lead to points. The Riders managed a rouge off a missed Lauther field goal.
That just isn’t enough.
Cody Fajardo was doing all he could out there. Would he like some decisions back? Probably, but his offensive line was again a revolving door against an Elks front that rushed three basically all night yet still managed to apply consistent pressure. In all, Fajardo was sacked eight times. Some of those sacks are on Fajardo himself, but not all of them.
The coaching staff again did the team no favours when Craig Dickenson challenged what was a fumble by Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius. The problem? There was never a chance that video review would show an immediate and clear recovery by the Riders. I believe the Riders probably recovered it, but video review isn’t supposed to operate on “probably.”
There was also yet another head-scratching shotgun draw called on third-and-short from offensive coordinator Jason Maas, which was stopped short in the third quarter. I’ll admit I didn’t like the decision to throw on a third-and-one early in the game, but it worked as Fajardo hit Shaq Evans for the touchdown.
The defence is officially a concern as they got beaten up by the Elks at times. Pressure on Taylor Cornelius was either non-existent or he was able to escape and run. In all, the big-bodied pivot ran for 93 yards, including a mind-boggling 56-yard run in the second quarter that brought the Elks back to life.
Nick Marshall continues to be Nick Marshall, throw at him and you’ll probably see a touchdown one way or the other. The defensive effort would likely have looked even worse if it weren’t for some key drops by Elks receivers. I also don’t remember the last time we saw this defence miss as many tackles as we did on Friday night.
Add in a doink and a miss from Brett Lauther and nothing went the Riders’ way.
Or if you’re looking for a GIF to sum up the night for the Riders, this is it.
like a wrecking ball🎶 pic.twitter.com/ZSFy9yyLX2
— (Jon)ny Foozball (@jonathanwhudson) September 17, 2022
Whenever Riders games go sideways as this one did, I often receive comments from readers who say, “Oh, you’re gonna have some dumb stuff from this one.”
And, I do, but it’s not really the spirit of this portion of my weekly column. It’s more intended to celebrate the chaos and the fun football can create. Sometimes it’s more obvious and other times it isn’t. Bad isn’t always dumb and dumb isn’t always bad.
Anyway, I saw something I had never seen before in this game and that’s when the Elks were forced to kickoff from their own 10-yard line. After Grey Cup MVP Sergio Castillo kicked a 32-yard field goal to give Edmonton a 17-10 lead, the Elks were called for unnecessary roughness pushing the kickoff back 15 yards.
On the kickoff, Edmonton went offside and the Riders opted to have Castillo re-kick so deep into his own end that some teams may have considered conceding a safety.
A true chaotic move would have been for Jones to call for an onside kick. Surely, no one would have seen it coming. They’d never do it, but a boy can dream.
It would also be wrong of me if I didn’t mention Castillo matching Lauther doink for doink. It’s rare you get to see two great kickers kick with such incredible accuracy in the same game that they both nail an upright.
— 3DownNation (@3DownNation) September 17, 2022
I maintain that hitting the upright in fact requires even more skill than a field goal and should be worth points, including bonus points if you call your shot.