Did anyone really expect the Ottawa Redblacks to do the Saskatchewan Roughriders any favours?
After what happened on that fateful July night when Riders’ pass-rusher Garrett Marino ended Redblacks’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s season, did we really have any belief that the Redblacks would — or even could — step up to help the green and white?
The ramifications of that one hit are still being sorted out some 15 weeks after the fact and it will likely take a few more weeks before the dust really settles on how the heck Saskatchewan’s 4-1 start unravelled the way it has.
It took Marino — who probably cost both Ottawa and Saskatchewan their playoff chances — eight more weeks to finally wear out his welcome and receive his apple and a roadmap out of Regina.
In fact, it could be argued that his actions in that Week 5 win have the possibility of costing himself, Masoli, Paul LaPolice, Cody Fajardo and Craig Dickenson their jobs.
For that simple fact, there is reason to resent Marino. All the impacted parties are good guys and nobody deserves to lose their job over something like that.
And yet, there the Redblacks were on Friday night, trying to save their own skin on the road in Hamilton and give the Riders back control of their own playoff destiny.
It all felt very eerie to see the Roughriders’ fate in the hands of a crew who lost so much from their trip to Regina back in the summer.
Admittedly, I still hadn’t quite sorted out my own thoughts on all of this when all of a sudden at half-time, a text came in from a Rider fan/coffee pal with a prophetic tweet from Rider Radio pre and post-game show broadcaster Daniella Ponticelli.
“Feels karmic (to me) that #Riders could use the help of Ottawa now.
Considering *that* SSK/OTT game in Week 5 was a turning point of sorts.
It was the last home win for the Riders AND the start of the Marino saga. Then COVID & so on…”
This whole thing was coming full circle. The Riders had ruined Ottawa’s season and their own. Now the Redblacks were about to destroy their own chances and help bury Saskatchewan’s too.
Even after Ticats’ quarterback Dane Evans got hurt in the fourth quarter and Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward hit a 51-yard-field goal to tie it up with under two minutes left, a feeling lingered that no matter how well Bob Dyce had prepared this crew or how much Nick Arbuckle played his heart out on this night, nothing good for Saskatchewan was going to come out of the Redblacks’ confrontation with the Tiger-Cats.
Hamilton backup Matthew Schiltz came off the bench and helped engineer a couple of field goal drives, including the one that ended the game and sealed a Ticats’ win. The Redblacks were eliminated from playoff contention on the last play of the game.
Worst of all for Rider Nation, it pushed their beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders to the brink.
The Riders will play the rest of their season from the ledge, needing a Saturday night win out of their backup quarterback in what will almost certainly be the final game fans will get to see Fajardo in a home uniform.
If all goes well — and it’s not looking good according to the oddsmakers — then the Roughriders will still need Ottawa to win at home next weekend over the Ticats and to win on the road themselves in Calgary.
Did I mention the Redblacks are winless in their other eight home games this season?
As of pre-game Saturday, it’s not over yet and Mason Fine could still emerge as a feel-good story in the ways he did in college with the North Texas Mean Green. Stranger things have happened.
But having this season end the way it is, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders so reliant on the Ottawa Redblacks, seems fitting, with a bit of bad karma to go along with it.