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Bye Bye 2nd Place – Riders Fall to Bombers

Published: Sunday, Sep 10th 2017, 2:09pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

Not only did the Riders lose the Banjo Bowl 48-28 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they also lost the season series to Winnipeg, their chance at 2nd place and a home playoff game, but most importantly, the Riders lost starting QB Kevin Glenn to a hand injury.

This wasn’t a must win game for the Riders by any means in terms of making the playoffs, but it was if they were looking at going on a major push for 2nd place in the West Division and a home playoff game. The Riders drop their record to 5-5 while Winnipeg stays in 2nd place with an 8-3 record. Losing the Banjo Bowl gave Winnipeg the season series over the Riders, leaving the Riders essentially 4 games behind the Bombers for 2nd place. Realistically, the Riders are battling with Edmonton and BC for positioning in the West. After BC’s win over Montreal, the Riders fall back to last place in the division and back out of the playoffs. Luckily, they have a game in hand on BC and Edmonton and the tiebreaker over BC in their back pocket.

But the Banjo Bowl was a tough loss. I’m not surpirsed at all that they lost, in fact when the schedule came out, I already marked this one down as a loss, so I’m not upset by the loss. What upsets me is the fashion in which they lost. Special Teams was terrible and Head Coach Chris Jones outcoached himself with some questionable decisions, The defense wasn’t as good as it has been the past month, but they were put in poor positions most of the game and were missing DT Nick James, which was the biggest issue on D.

There was some good, there was even more bad. Here are my thoughts.

– Before he got injured, Kevin Glenn was hit and miss. His two interceptions definitely hurt, especially the second one being taken back for a Winnipeg touchdown. But then he also hit Duron Carter and Naaman Roosevelt for long touchdowns and the O was doing a decent job moving the ball.

– Losing Kevin Glenn to that hand injury is huge. He was having one of the best years of his career and was the team MVP at this point. If he is out any period of time, the team will suffer a bit. There is still a ton of talent around Brandon Bridge and the offense, but he’s still pretty raw. The real test will be on Offensive Coordinator Stephen McAdoo to come up with a gameplan for Hamilton that will allow Bridge to flourish. We may see some more quick screens and hitches and let the playmakers make plays. This will be something to monitor this week as practice gets underway.

– Kienan LaFrance did well in his first start as a Rider in place of Cameron Marshall. Fresh legs and running with a purpose gave LaFrance plenty of solid runs and we didn’t see a drop off between the two. The bonus to having LaFrance start is we got Caleb Holley back in the starting receiving unit. As good as Nic Demski is, Holley is the better player and puts a bit more explosiveness on the field.

– Duron Carter and Naaman Roosevelt continued their assault on the league with their long touchdowns. I am a bit surprised we didn’t see more short passes to Carter. They’ve been doing that all year and I’m not sure why that changed yesterday.

– The Defense gave up a ton of points, obviously not playing their best game, but they were put in pretty poor situations and field position all game long. They didn’t get the turnovers they got in the last 3 games and were really missing DT Nick James in the middle of the D-Line. There was no push up the middle and Bombers QB Matt Nichols had all day to do whatever he wanted. We said on the most recent Piffles Podcast that missing Nick James was the biggest factor in this game and it was.

– Special Teams were beyond bad yesterday. Winnipeg got great field position on return after return and constantly had shorter fields to work with and made the Riders pay. An onside punt that didn’t work, an onside kick after making it a 2 point game didn’t work. High risk high reward and if they paid off Chris Jones looks like a genius, but they were completely unnecessary.

– Duron Carter not giving up the single at the start of the game after a Justin Medlock missed field goal put the Riders on their own 5 yard line and I truly believe that changed the game. Couple that with the weird decision to punt 3 plays later from deep in their own end zone, the Riders gave the ball to the Bombers in instant scoring range, resulting in a touchdown. At worst it should have been 1-0 Winnipeg with the Riders having the ball on their own 35 yard line. Instead the Riders were down 7-0 and it just showed me that the decision making by the coaching staff wasn’t there.

– Speaking of decision making, why didn’t Chris Jones challenge that bogus “accidental” pass interference call at the end of the first half?? At 22-20 for Winnipeg, Jones should have challenged the call because he would have won. It would have made it 3rd down and a 25-20 Bomber lead at the half, a one score game instead of leaving it alone and resulting in a 29-20 Bomber lead, a two score game. I assume he didn’t challenge because he only had one timeout left at that point and didn’t want to risk losing it, but he made the wrong call here.

– Wrong/missed calls. Yikes. I’m one of the biggest defenders of Andre Proulx as he is the best ref in the league and his crew is consistenly the best, but they were all beyond terrible. Missing obvious multiple offsides on Winnipeg, one of which was on Mo Leggett’s pick 6 was another key point in the game. The above mentioned bogus PI call on Kacy Rodgers that was a 4 point swing.., the reffing crew cost the Riders at least 11 points. Not saying the refs are all to blame for the Riders loss, if you give up 48 points you don’t deserve to win anyway, but those were HUGE moments in the game that should have gone the other way. The CORRECT way.

– Congrats (I guess?) to Winnipeg for having the “louder fans”. It was a great promotion that got people talking and sold some tickets, but if we look at it, TSN never once had Winnipeg recording anything louder than we saw at the Labour Day Classic in Regina. They both got to 104db which is a tie (a number aided by fireworks in Winnipeg, but I digress). Sure, Winnipeg was louder on more plays than we were here in Regina, but they didn’t get recorded as louder. But if we are being honest, I truly don’t care about this. Just feel like bugging the Bomber fans.

Good on everyone that made the trek to Winnipeg for the game and to the Bombers and their fans for the hospitality. We all know 99% of the fans are great and I’m sure everyone had a great time. On TV, this game had unreal atmosphere. Can’t wait until the Riders play the Bombers there again in November. That will be off the chains!

All this said, the Riders went 3-1 in a tough 4 game stretch against Western Division opponents and I think we can all be happy about that. This team CAN compete with the big dogs and I believe this game was a blip on the radar. With a softer schedule coming up that has the Riders play in Hamilton, home to Calgary, in Ottawa, in Toronto and home to Ottawa, the Riders have a big chance to make up some ground on teams like BC and Edmonton. Realistically, they could go 4-1 in that stretch which would put them at 9-6 and there’s no reason to think it can’t be done.

A tough loss here in the Banjo Bowl for sure, but it wasn’t catastrophic. The Riders control their destiny and will get the 2-8 Ticats next Friday evening. Time to get back on the winning path. 2nd place may be gone, but the playoffs sure aren’t.

We will have more talk about the Banjo Bowl and on the Riders in Hamilton on the next Piffles Podcast brought to you by Brin Werrett set to come out on Thursday morning. We will chat with Riders star receiver Naaman Roosevelt on the Coney Island Poutine Cafe Piffles Player Profile and of course Engaging With the Enemy where we will talk to someone with the Hamilton TigerCats.

Be sure to give us a follow on Twitter @pifflespod, @RealAlexD, @CFLHottieBowl, @Fernie635, @GregOnSports and @safimod. Like us on Facebook, facebook.com/pifflespodcast and subscribe to the show on Soundcloud, Google Play, iTunes and Stitcher. Just search Piffles Podcast!

Go Riders! – Alex

 

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