Monday, November 30, 2009

The Next Day

The sun came up this morning, but the misery remains. The Rider Nation is returning from Calgary in a state of disbelief and people everywhere are discussing the 4th quarter meltdown that cost the Riders their second Grey Cup in three years. Yes, it was a 4th quarter meltdown. This game was not lost on the too many men on the field penalty. There are many what ifs that could be asked. It ranges right from Luca Congi's first missed field goal right down to that last play.
When I look at that 4th quarter, I would think you have to agree that all three phases failed to operate with the efficiency they had in the first three quarters.

Offensively, miscommunication between Darian Durant and Andy Fantuz resulted in a bad interception being thrown. An interception that gave Montreal some more momentum which is something they didn't need. Many are bemoaning the last two offensive plays, but I will defend Paul LaPolice and Ken Miller on this one. We all know when you are hanging on to a lead, that you run the football to kill the clock. You see it in the CFL, the NFL, the NCAA, the CIS. You take as much time off the clock as you can and you hope there are no turnovers. I can only imagine the scrutiny LaPolice and Durant would have been under had Darian thrown an interception. All the good he did this year would have been forgotten on one play.

Remember the end of the 2007 game, there was less than a minute to play when James Johnson intercepted Ryan Dinwiddie to give the Riders the game. They still had to kill the clock and they managed two on a pair of Wes Cates' runs. In 2007, they did it, in 2009 they couldn't--its that simple. The pass in the flats to Rob Bagg was like a run. It was his duty to make a move on the defender and perhaps get that first down---one that would have ended the game. It didn't happen. On that series, Montreal was the better team.

Defensively, you can't ignore the fact the Riders led this game 27-11 with 10 minutes to go. Yes, this was Anthony Calvillo and the high-powered Alouettes, but a championship defence must come through and the Riders didn't. Calvillo did what he had to do three times in those final 10 minutes. He has to be given some credit for bouncing back. He showed us why he is one of the top 10 if not top 5 quarterbacks to play in the CFL.

The play of the special teams---well that has been debated enough and will continue to be. Charlie Brown always screams why couldn't McCovey hit the ball three feet higher. Rider fans can scream why didn't the punt team recover Brian Bratton's fumble. Kavis Reed is taking a majority of the heat, but give this to Reed. He manned up when it was over. He admitted it was his fault. He didn't throw a player under the bus. He could have said this guy or that guy wasn't supposed to be on the field, but he is taking the blame himself. I find that very admirable. We will always wonder who the player was, and in some ways I wish he would identify himself and do some manning up on his own, but then I think of the Paul McCallum incident in 2004 and say perhaps its better that this player keep his mouth shut ---at least in public.

The bottom line is that while yesterday's game leaves a mark and makes it a very tough winter wondering what could have been, one can sit back and go what a great year it was. The team finished first for the first time in 33 years. They got to their 2nd Grey Cup in three years. They found a quarterback who can hopefully lead them for years in Darian Durant, they proved they have the best Canadian talent. They did it all with a general manager confined to his home. The positives this year far outweigh the negatives. No one knows what will happen between now and June when training camp opens, but you can be confident in knowing this team is more than capable of being at and winning Grey Cup 2010 in Edmonton.

The Alouettes say they never forgot the feeling of losing at home to Calgary last year and that it served as a motivator. Montreal has no idea how the Riders will feel when Ken Miller blows that whistle for the first time next year. There is a mission next year and it starts for many who were on that field last night wearing green right now.

BTW: If you want to find someone to blame, blame Blue Rodeo. THEY WERE AWFUL!! That was the lamest half-time show for a Grey Cup in years.


Anonymous said...

Was Rob Bagg on that FG coverage team? Did his injury create a substitution issue that's at the root of the 13th man play?

Anyway, no shame in Rider Land today...this team should hold thier heads up, it was a hell of a season, and they've got a great future with the core of guys they have.


GG said...

Someone actually watched the game and realized the Riders did not lose on one play. How about Darian Durant throwing his standard ill timed interceptions taking points off the board for the Riders once and give they Als points late. Then there is Ken Miller giving the Als a single point after 2 straight offside calls on punts, instead of making them kick it again. Because we all know how great the Als were on special teams.

Anonymous said...

Don Cherry is no longer alone when it comes to coaches who lose big games because of a too many men call. This is a game that will take a long time to recover from.

Mike from Vita, MB said...

The sting will linger, but Rider Nation will rebound. Like the Als said, this season started last year with their Grey Cup loss to Calgary. I'm believing the Riders 2010 drive to the Grey Cup started last night. have a great offseason Rider Nation. We will be back, loud and proud in 2010.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Rider diehard. HOwever it took me exactly 2 minutes to recover from this loss. This is a "game" this is not life, and there are far more crucial things in the world to get upset over. In 6 months they can line up and try again. Hey Calvillo lost 5 straight and kept coming back. Take a life lesson from him.


Anonymous said...

Blue Rodeo was horrible. Was that really the best the CFL could give us? Really!


LRT said...

I agree with Obama, I saw the game at Casino Regina in the show lounge with a bunch of other Rider fans. For about two minutes after the game most people were stunned and not talking.. and a few minutes later people were laughing and joking. Very few people were hanging their heads.

Football is a fun game, and we're football fans because its fun. There is no reason to feel bad.

It was a great season, and we have a good team - which we should be able to retain the nucleus of, and now virtually all of them will know that a Grey Cup win takes every minute of every game. Our young team is a now a veteran team - we'll be back.

Anonymous said...

what, doug & the slugs weren't available?
jay n.

Anonymous said...

Remember we were supposed to lose by three touchdowns if you heard any of the tsn guys. If we keep this team together we will be back there next year. Sorry calgary fans but we will be back next year, unlike your predictions.