OH MY GOODNESS!! Where do you start! Was it just me or did the coffee taste better Saturday morning? Did the air seem fresher Saturday and was everyone in a good mood. It is amazing what beating the Calgary Stampeders can do for a fan-base. Of course, win or lose no one can seemingly bother to use a signal light in this city when out and about, but that is another story for another time.
As one person said on my Twitter account Friday night once the 30-7 beatdown of the Stampeders was over, is it nicer seeing the Riders win or just seeing Calgary lose. It may be the latter! What a night at McMahon and what a night for the man who orchestrated it all--the one and only Chris Jones.
The man in charge once again showed he is a riverboat gambler, and methinks he sucked all of us in this week. It took a while to figure it out, but once the pieces came into place, it all came into shape.
While we knew about the events of Monday's practice with the Duron Carter-Sam Williams fight, I had no idea that Carter had been working out with the defensive backs at that get-together. Those who were in attendance at said practice obviously didn't either or else something would have been said. I don't know if the "scrap" was part of the plan, but Chris Jones took all the focus away from his football team and how to beat Calgary and put it all on Carter's shoulders and his own. The questions didn't revolve about how to stop Jerome Messam, how to rebound from the tough loss to Ottawa, how do you beat the Stampeders juggernaut, etc. etc. etc It was all Duron Carter and how is he going to play in a completely foreign position. It was all "Is Chris Jones crazy?" Why are you doing this. As we saw, the plan worked to perfection. Did it ever! Not only did it allow his team to concentrate on the task at hand, it made Calgary go "HUH?" and frankly, lose their focus somewhat.
The Riders just went out and did their thing. They went out and they slapped the CFL bullies right in the mouth and this just in, they didn't respond well. The shenanigans at the end of the first half and the game proved that. Do you think Calgary is relishing a possible date in the Western final against that team? One has to wonder how Winnipeg is feeling as well after seeing that result especially after losing to the Argos in front of a few hundred fans.
While Duron Carter has made many plays in his one year in Rider green, it is safe to say his pick-six of Bo Levi Mitchell will go down as one of the biggest plays of the season and one of the biggest plays we have seen in Riderville since Darian Durant hit Geroy Simon for his first touchdown of Grey Cup 2013. If the Riders were to somehow end this season with a Grey Cup, the Carter TD could be equated with the Kerry Joseph QB draw in the 2007 Labour Day Classic. As Carter twisted and turned his way through the Calgary offence, I don't think there was any Rider fan or CFL fan who were amazed at what they saw. As expected, the internet exploded with Bo Levi's chirp at Carter being the focus of attention. The TD call from Rod Pedersen which is punctuated by a "SHUT YOUR MOUTH BO LEVI" is the call of the year and one that went viral in the hours that followed.
While Mitchell did take his fair share of grief for the pick-six, he was also gracious enough to go back to Twitter after the game to praise the Riders and Carter. You can dislike the guy all you want, but you do have to respect him. He is good for the CFL, and that can't be denied. Carter is also good for the CFL, but the difference between himself and Mitchell is quite vast as you know.
The next month is going to be a lot of fun in these parts as playoff football has returned.
--Playoff football is in the Rams future as well, but will that playoff game be in Regina or not. For whatever reason, the Rams were not ready to go Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium as they were down 24-0 just 9 and a half minutes in. Give credit to Steve Bryce's crew as they fought back to make a game of it, but when Calgary needed a play late in the 4th quarter on offence or defence they got it. It is why one team is 7-0, and the other is 4-3. The Rams know they will play UBC in the playoffs and they know the winner of next week's finale at TBirds Stadium will have home-field for that game.
--While playoff football is in the Rams future, the Thunder will look to next year as their season ended in Saskatoon Sunday as the Hilltops won yet another PFC Championship with a national title likely to follow. The Thunder were down 6 in the 4th quarter, but they couldn't find a way to beat the Toppers with the final being 36-24. Congrats to them as the beat just doesn't stop.
--After the Rams game, I went by the old Mosaic Stadium once again to get a look at the place in its final days. It really is surreal to see the building in the shape it is in now knowing Rider Nation was still converging there less than a year ago.
This picture just sums it up with the old stadium being a skeleton now with the new one in all its glory standing behind it. I have to think that by Easter, there won't be any remnants of the old girl as a big vacant lot will stand where so many football memories were made for so many people.
--Just when we thought we were going to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series, the Houston Astros decided to step in and remind everyone about their team. We will see two 100 win teams compete in the World Series for the first time since the 70's. That's hard to believe. The Yankees couldn't get the hits when they needed them in Games 6 and 7, and when they did get some hits, the Houston defence snuffed out scoring opportunities. Center fielder George Springer thought he was Devon White with some of the catches he made in the final two games. The Dodgers will be favoured in the World Series as they should be after dispatching the Cubs in the NLCS. As a baseball fan, I think we just ask for Clayton Kershaw to go up against Justin Verlander in a Game 7 because that would be fantastic. The decision by the Astros to get Verlander has certainly paid off.
--The much-hyped Super Bowl rematch was a dud. New England owned Atlanta on a foggy night in Foxboro. I am starting to wonder if the Falcons have really recovered from that 4th quarter collapse at the Super Bowl because they have really looked nothing like the team that were oh so close to winning it all last year.
Meanwhile, NFL fans should be thankful that the New York Giants will play Cleveland . Both of those teams just re-define horrid. Speaking of the Giants. it was a historic day for football in this province at Met-Life Stadium when the Seahawks met the G-Men. I believe it is the first time in history two Saskatchewan boys (Jon Ryan & Brett Jones) have faced one another in an NFL game. That is an accomplishment all in itself with many having a right to be very proud.
--The one thing I didn't want to have happen for the Regina Pats is happening. A fan-base got spoiled after last season with some believing this team should be dominating the way it did last year. The question being asked of this guy is "When does Paddock start making his moves?" It won't be for a while yet, but when it happens, this team will be more than capable of not only getting back to the Ed Chynoweth Cup final, but representing themselves well at the Memorial Cup.
--Keep fighting Craig! Former Riders, now Bombers scout Craig Smith let us know this week he has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The work has already started to try and win this battle. Knowing Craig, he will give it every ounce of strength he has and be back scouting talent across this country and the U-S in short order. The football world is in the huddle with him as he starts this fight. Kick cancer's ass Craig. We all know you can do it. Oh yeah, f**k cancer!
That's all I got. Have yourselves a great week!