The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 38-13 loss to Hamilton

Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

On a night when Saskatchewan honoured the late George Reed and the 2013 Grey Cup championship team, you expected the sad-sack Riders to have all the motivation they would need to show some heart and give it all they got.

Instead, they were exactly like they’ve been since their Labour Day Classic win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Actually, I take that back; they were even worse. Just when you think this team has found rock bottom, they dig deep and keep going lower.

They were gashed early and often by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats en route to a pathetic 38-13 loss on a very emotional night at Mosaic Stadium.

The best effort on the night came from the team’s former quarterback Darian Durant, who made his way around the entire stadium from field level, greeting fans and signing autographs following the half-time ceremony honouring the championship team. That continued well into the third quarter. He was still at field level as the game ended.

There’s nothing worth saving here. A coaching change is needed heading into next week’s game in Calgary and if general manager Jeremy O’Day won’t do it, then his run should be over at season’s end too.

The Good

If there’s one thing we can count on the Riders to do well, it’s honouring people properly. The team’s storied past is an important part of the organization and when it comes to that, they are very good.

Before the game, there was a wonderful ceremony honouring the team’s legendary former running back George Reed, who passed away at 83 a week ago.

It began with running back Jamal Morrow — the one Rider who looked like he gave a damn — leading the team out of the tunnel with a Remembering George Reed flag. The players all had patches on their jerseys. His retired number was lit up all night.

The video tribute was touching and left many wondering who was cutting onions. Reed’s family was seated in his normal perch at the top of section 34. Reed’s daughter Georgette addressed the fans and it ended with a moment of celebration at the family’s request.

There was even an unexpected tribute when Morrow — who is also a fellow Washington State alumnus — scored the team’s only touchdown on the night with 34 seconds left in the second quarter.

The Bad

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.

Unlike previous home games, the team didn’t give much of a sign that there was any reason to be hopeful. Ticats’ receiver Tim White took off for an early 88-yard catch and run where he shed tackles from just about every Rider defender and you knew that it was going to be a long night for the Green and White.

Before you knew it, the Riders were down 22-2 and the boos came reigning down from the alleged 27,579 in attendance.

This team was different, we were told. They might be, actually. They somehow found a way to be worse.

I’ve been to a lot of Rider games in my 11 years covering this team. I can’t remember Mosaic Stadium or Taylor Field ever being as lifeless as it was in the first half of this game and you can’t blame the fans at all.

This game was going to be a test of this coaching staff and the players. You can’t change all the players right now, but the coaching staff should have been able to get something out of them. They didn’t.

Losing is one thing. Being completely lifeless is another. Being lifeless in a few losses in a row is something else entirely.

The whole thing has to be flushed.

The Dumb 

We did get a wacky moment in this game, one in a series of events that might have sparked most teams but not this edition of the Riders.

2:49 into the game, the Riders had the Ticats backed up at their own six-yard line. The pressure actually got to quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. Originally, it looked like the Riders had recovered a Mitchell fumble for a touchdown. Upon review, Mitchell had actually flicked the ball forward for an incompletion.

Mitchell was in the end zone as he did it and would eventually get called for intentional grounding which led to a safety. It was a bit of a confusing moment that all of the officials eventually got right. It appeared that head official Andre Proulx was set to make that call off the bat, but was eventually talked out of it.

I suppose the moral of the story is that Proulx remains one of the best officials in the Canadian Football League.

The safety also allowed the Riders to hit for the cycle as they scored a touchdown, field goal, rouge, and safety — a rare feat. Sadly, the Riders would have had to hit it a few more times to have a chance.

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