A WIN!!! - Hey, wins haven't come around the Riders very often over the last two years, so Rider Nation is going to celebrate any "W" they get, especially when it comes at the hands of the Edmonton Eskimos. Perhaps the Riders most storied rival over the years, it was perhaps only fitting that the /=S=/ get the last win between the two teams at Mosaic Stadium or "Canada's Fenway Park" as Edmonton Sun writer Terry Jones referred to it in what was an excellent story this week.
Why did the Riders win? There are many reasons, but reason #1 is the play of their leader. Darian Durant showed why the green-and-white must keep him around at season's end and have him as the signal-caller when the new Mosaic Stadium opens. Durant's numbers weren't flashy, but in the end, he once again took this team on his back and refused to lose. His overtime winning touchdown didn't have the same flair as Kerry Joseph's Labour Day run in 2007, but it was another example of him taking this team on his back and doing everything he possibly can to win the football game. This team isn't 2-10 because of Durant. He once again gives everything he can and leaves out on the field. This time his hard work was rewarded as he wins his first game at home since the 2014 Banjo Bowl. You could see the relief in his face as reporters spoke to him after the game. Hey, one win doesn't change the season, but the young team Chris Jones is molding together is finally showing signs of being a competitive football team. The future looks bright which is what Rider Nation wants so desperately.
--Without Naaman Roosevelt and Ricky Collins, guys had to step up and guys did. Curtis Steele had a nice return to the lineup, and Armanti Edwards had a nice game as well. I don't see Edwards taking the spot of either Roosevelt or Collins when they return, but he provides another nice option.
--I don't know when Eric Norwood will get onto the roster, but here's hoping he can get some pressure on the quarterback because that isn't happening these days. Mike Reilly had wayyyyyyy too much time to find his receivers with no pressure coming his way for a majority of the game. That being said, Otha Foster laid a devastating rib-crunching sack on the Edmonton QB in the 4th quarter that I'm sure Reilly will be feeling this morning.
--If special teams coach Craig Dickenson had hair, he wouldn't have had any after this game. I can see a guy not giving 5 yards once on a long punt, but to have it happen three times is just inexcusable. That being said, Edmonton punt returner Kenzel Doe didn't do his team any favours. He caught a few punts inside the 10 that should have went for singles and he inexplicably returned a kickoff out of the endzone after the Riders had touched it when he just should have let it go through. These mistakes shouldn't be happening in the final third of the season.
--Justin Cox had a rough afternoon against Adarius Bowman, but this kid continues to play solid football and in the end, made a huge play that just about meant the game didn't go into overtime. Cox will be one of the top defenders in this league very soon if he continues to progress.
--With the Eskimos in town for the last time at Mosaic Stadium, I couldn't help but think back to my first ever appearance at the then-Taylor Field. I saw the Riders for the first time in person in 1971, and it was a game against the Eskimos. Dad and I sat in Section 24. The Riders won that game. Bill Baker was unbelievable. Who knew at that time how much time I would spend in that building, and how much time I would spend covering that organization.
--As I thought about Section 24 and my first ever Riders game, I had to laugh when on the way into the stadium, a father and son were walking in front of me. The son (adorned in a Durant jersey) turned to Dad (adorned in a Dressler jersey) and looked back at the new Mosaic saying "Dad, why aren't the Riders playing over there, isn't that their home now?" Dad just answered soon and that next year they will be watching the Riders play in that building, The boy gave one turn back to the new facility with that "I can't wait" look. I think many have that feeling.
A WIN--PART 2 -- Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce was smiling from ear-to-ear after his team beat Manitoba to improve their record to 1-1 earlier this month. That smile was a little bigger, and so were the grins of many connected with the "Horns" as they knocked off UBC 20-10 in Vancouver Saturday night. Noah Picton didn't throw for 450 plus yards like he had in the first two games, but he continues to get the job done with a lot of help from receivers Mitch Picton, Khalid Kornegay, Riley Wilson and Ryan Schienbein.
While Picton was getting it done on offense, the defence had their best game holding a good UBC team out of the endzone. Highly touted T-Birds quarterback Michael O'Connor didn't help himself by turning the ball over twice deep in Regina territory in the first half, but he looked nowhere close to the QB that led his team to the Vanier Cup last season.
This team is a lot of fun and the difference from last year to this year is immense in so many ways. I laughed hard when Global Regina's Kyle Galliver said after the Rider game, "Mike Gibson still can't be on the winning team in Regina". We just need to forget all about the Gibson era and pretend it never happened.
As I mentioned Friday, I love the home of the T-Birds which is Thunderbird Stadium. It is a perfect venue for CIS football. They also had over 7-thousand people at the game and they made it a real event with it being homecoming as you can see....
Sorry about the video being the way it is, but you can see that the Thunderbirds made it a real event. I am hoping the Rams can do this at the new Mosaic. They will certainly have the space. That video was taken about two hours before the game when the gates had just opened. It was packed in that area about 40 minutes before game time. It created a great environment. I don't know if they go full out just for their homecoming game or if they do it at all games, but they do it well. I also noticed this inside the venue which I think is new....
There are many who miss that oldtimer around here. I wonder what he would be saying about the status of the current Riders.
By the way, the Rams are home to first place Calgary on Friday night at Mosaic. The Rams are one 3rd and 20 meltdown from having the same 3-0 record as the Dinos. That game will be a ring-a-ding dong dandy. You might want to go check it out.
A LOSS - I am guessing many Survivor pools blew up this weekend as the L-A Rams beat the Seahawks 9-6. Yes, the same L-A Rams who looked absolutely putrid on Monday night held off Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. I don't know what kind of voodoo hex Jeff Fisher has on Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, but whether it be St. Louis, L-A or Minot, the Seahawks can't win on the Rams home turf. SIGHHHHHH!!! At least Russell Wilson stayed healthy for that one, because Jimmy Garappolo didn't. After looking great in the season opener against Arizona, Garappolo hurt his shoulder meaning the Patriots have to go to their 3rd string QB on Thursday night. Who is Jacoby Brissett? We'll find out starting Thursday.
I'm guessing Vikings fans are feeling conflicted today knowing that yes your team is 2-0, but yes, Adrian Peterson is out for who knows how long. Losing Bridgewater was bad enough, but losing AP could be a full-fledged disaster. New Vikes quarterback Sam Bradford said after the game, that was the loudest he had heard US Bank Stadium. Hey Sam, that was your first game in the joint, and it was the first Vikings game in their new home. CMON MAN!!
By the way, I am not a fan of the new Sunday night NFL song.
ONLY IN THE CFL - One of those moments occurred Friday. If you didn't hear, the Alouettes bus didn't show up to take them to Tim Hortons Field so employees of the hotel ended up shuttling them over. Can you see that happening in the NFL? What an unbelievable story. Say what you will about the CFL, but its stories like this one that make the league great. How does that happen anyhow?
ALL HAIL THE YOUNG GUNS - Did you watch any of the World Cup of Hockey this weekend? I didn't, but I was a little busy. Looking at my Twitter feed Sunday night, there was a lot of amazement over the play of Team North America. Why? That's a very good squad they have with guys like McDavid, Gaudreau, Matthews, Gostibehere, McKinnon, Reilly and Murray. These guys will soon be the face of the NHL. If there is one game I am interested in watching in this event, it will be their game against Team Canada. As a Canadian, can I cheer openly for the Young Guns?
That's all I got. Its been a long weekend! Have a great week!!