The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 29-21 win over Edmonton

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Saskatchewan Roughriders have beaten the Edmonton Elks after the Green and Gold more or less handed them the game.

Over the last two years, that’s certainly been the theme. It was once again on Saturday afternoon, as the Riders downed the Elks 29-21 to open the 2024 season.

Edmonton was firmly in control in the fourth quarter before another series of blunders opened the door for Corey Mace to get his first win as a CFL head coach.

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

The Good

If you’ve read this space enough over the years, you’ll know that this contributor is a big process over results kind of guy — especially early in the season. If you do things the right way, eventually it’ll pay off and lead to success.

Even though the Riders’ offence didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard for most of the day at Commonwealth Stadium, I generally liked what I saw, even before they broke out in the fourth quarter.

Over the last few years, the conservative nature of the offence under various coordinators has been a thorn in the side of Roughrider faithful everywhere. You’d need a scientific calculator to figure out how many times Rider pivots were asked to toss one to a receiver in the flat or behind the line of scrimmage.

It’s only one game and different opponents will call for different approaches but I didn’t see many, if any, passes attempted behind the line of scrimmage against Edmonton.

Under new offensive coordinator Marc Mueller, Green and White receivers were allowed to run routes downfield. No one benefited more than Shawn Bane Jr, who reeled in three touchdown passes. He would have had four if Trevor Harris hadn’t underthrown him on an interception.

It feels like good things are coming for this offence.

The Bad

The other pet peeve of Rider fans over the last few years? Penalties.

In this regard, there’s still some work to do. The Riders were flagged six times for 88 yards. A good portion of that came in the first half when offensive lineman Logan Ferland punched Elks linebacker Leon O’Neal Jr. The Saskatchewan native was given a 25-yard penalty and was ejected from the contest.

Last year, I can recall a few times when players weren’t ejected for throwing a punch. It seems there’s a renewed emphasis on such behaviour this year, as the TSN panel revealed at the half that teams were warned about this before the year began. Historically, ejection has been the standard and it probably should be.

That penalty was a big turning point in the game as the Riders went from leading by three to trailing not long after.

A late taunting call on safety Jayden Dalke also gave the Elks hope after what appeared to be a two-and-out from the defence. Luckily for the Riders, Edmonton did what they do best.

If the Riders were playing anybody else, these penalties might have done them in. Against the Elks, they were able to overcome.

Mace talked a lot about accountability during training camp. We’ll see how that goes this week.

The Dumb

It’s a new year but it’s more of the same old from TSN.

This season is Edmonton’s 75th anniversary, a milestone worth celebrating. To commemorate the occasion, the Elks brought in several legends for events this week and an appearance at the game.

Naturally, TSN wanted to talk to a few of them. Of course, they also wanted to do some of those interviews in the booth. Predictably, a big moment happened during one of those interviews, as Harris was intercepted toward the end of a conversation.

Enough already. I know some people at TSN think these in-game interviews are good, but they are not.

The sideline interviews were fine as reporters generally get back to the play fairly quickly. However, TSN ran 30 minutes of SportsCentre countdown filler ahead of the game. Why not record an Edmonton 75th anniversary special to run during that time? Interview these guys for that, and run some of it at halftime.

Leave the game for the game already.

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