Riders Dominate Clock, Stampeders in 29-24 Victory
Published: Sunday, Oct 21st 2018, 9:10am
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
Pass the crow, I was wrong on my game pick and I couldn't be happier! On episode 97 of the Piffles Podcast, I picked the Stamps to win in a close game to wrap up first in the West Division. If that's the result whenever I pick the Stamps, I'll keep doing it!
The Riders walked into Cow-town and even though the score was close, the Riders dominated the Stamps YET AGAIN! The offense showed up, the defense played very well and the game planning and execution was there all game long. Here's some of my thoughts on the game:
- Game Plan: What can I say? Almost flawless. Chris Jones decided the best way to beat the Stamps was to not let them have the ball very much. Mission accomplished as the Riders won the time of possession 34:40 - 25:20. Zach Collaros and the offense killed the clock all game long with LONG drives that took big chunks of time AND resulted in points. For an offense that got completely shut out last week against Winnipeg, this is EXACTLY what they needed to do against the team with the best record in the league (note I didn't say the best team in the league). This isn't a big play offense that can score in a minute or one play, so this is what the Riders need to do against BC next week and in the playoffs as well if they plan on making a serious Grey Cup run.
- Confident Collaros: This was easily the best game Zach Collaros has had as a Saskatchewan Roughrider. He was confident in all his throws, made some GREAT decisions and most importantly, didn't turn the ball over. Collaros finished 24/35 for 352 yards and got help from his receiving crew. Sure, he didn't throw for a TD again and remains with only 9 on the season (how that is even possible for an 11 win team, I have NO idea), but he consistently moved the ball and generally looked poised all game long.
-Balanced Attack: First off, welcome back Bam Bam Cam! Cameron Marshall was a beast last night in his return to the field. He was in for Marcus Thigpen and was fantastic in his return. Marshall had 76 yards on 11 carries and caught 2 passes for 23 yards. The return of Jordan Williams-Lambert was much needed as he made a bunch of big, clutch catches and led the team with 113 yards on 5 receptions. New receiver KD Cannon got into his first game and had 61 yards and looked like he belonged. The obvious key to the Riders O is a running game. If they have any success on the ground, that is when they are at their best. All 3 running backs look fresh and ready to go, so I expect the run game to be a focal point against BC and in the playoffs.
-O-Line Survives: We were all worried how Josiah St. John was going to perform against a very good Stampeders D-Line and I thought he held his own. Collaros did get sacked 3 times, but generally he had enough time all game long to make his reads and his throws. St. John also got Stamps DL Micah Johnson shook in the 2nd quarter when Johnson couldn't beat St. John on a 1 on 1. Johnson then tried to take on Labatte and probably should have been flagged for illegal hands to the face. Johnson, much like most Stampeders players, showed that he can't keep his composure when they aren't getting their way. He chased after the O-Line at the end of the first half and then again after the final whistle. Looks good on you Micah, keep up the crybaby attitude, see how that works for you in the playoffs...
- Bounce Back Defense: Sure, the Stamps are with a makeshift receiving group, but the Riders defense held their own all game long. Bo Levi Mitchell didn't look too bad, but just couldn't get enough going. Ed Gainey specifically was all over the place and had great coverage all game long. The Stamps didn't get much of a run game going and even though the Riders didn't get any sacks, they kept Mitchell in check. Mike Edem had a HUGE INT in the end zone when Calgary was threatening to score and that was the only turnover in the game. Yeah, they gave up 2 TDs on impressive Stamps drives, but I really thought they played a pretty good game.
- Subpar Special Teams: Both teams had some great returns on punts and kickoffs all game long and while that is a positive, I'm choosing to look at it as a negative for the coverage teams. Romar Morris had a punt return TD for the Stamps early in the game, the 2nd time this season the Riders have given up a big punt return TD to the Stamps. Come playoff time, the Riders coverage team needs to be better like they were in the middle portion of the season. It's nothing to dwell on now, but definitely something to watch.
- What it Means: The victory means a few things. First, the dream of the Riders catching the Stamps for first in the West is still alive. The Riders need to beat BC next week and have the Stamps lose both their final games in Winnipeg and in BC for the Riders to have the bye and the West Final at New Mosaic Stadium. It's not as farfetched as it may seem though... Calgary isn't playing well lately and BC and Winnipeg are the two best teams in the league right now. The win also ensures that the Riders WILL play in the West Division in the playoffs. Winnipeg and Edmonton both can't catch them, so the only team that can is BC. The Riders will finish no worse than 3rd. They still don't have a home playoff game clinched yet. That won't be deterimined until they play BC next week and depending on the outcome, may not be decided until the very final game of the regular season when Calgary plays BC. The win also means that the Riders have gone into Calgary and beat them the last 2 times. Combine those wins with the 2 home games against the Stamps this year where the Riders dominated 6 of 8 quarters, and it shows that they really can hang with the top team in the standings and that last week's "effort" against the Bombers was just "one of those games".
Buckle up Rider fans, this is going to be an exciting final 2 weeks in the CFL regular season!