One last Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium! The people from Winnipeg that invaded our city can finally go home happy because their team won a game in Regina on the first Sunday in September. It took until the last play, but they won it in a game that has Rider Nation spitting nails and for good reason.
Once again, the incompetence of the CFL and its officials has everyone talking including fans of the victorious team because of some verrrrrrrry questionable calls including a "pass interference" call that took away the chance of going to overtime. It was one that as one Bomber fan wearing a Milt Stegall jersey as he left the stadium said "We may have gotten a little lucky on that one.". A little??!! Word is there were some Bomber staff members who were even shaking their head over how fortunate they were. If this was a wrestling match, Andre Proulx would have thrown sand into the Riders eyes allowing Winnipeg to get the pin!
It is time for Glen Johnson to start explaining himself and start explaining the rationale behind decisions made on the field by his staff? Decisions CFL fans can see are somewhat questionable! . The first thing he can do is stand up at halftime on an episode of "Friday Night Football" and explain to the CFL fan just what is and what isn't pass interference/illegal contact.
Of course he won't, because he doesn't know the answer. I don't know if anyone does.
In my books, both the Justin Cox penalty on Weston Dressler in the endzone and the Johnny Adams non-penalty on Caleb Holley in the endzone--both in the 2nd quarter were not penalties.They were guys fighting for the ball which is what you should be able to do. However, Johnson needs to tell us why after video review, Cox was penalized and Adams was not.
Under the rule the way it sits, both Cox and Adams were guilty of contact 5 yards or more down the field thus they should be flagged. So please tell us Glen, why is one review overturned with a penalty being called and the other isn't? Chris Jones wants to know, Rider fans want to know, and CFL fans want to know. If you don't have the onions to do this, then put Jake Ireland on the spot and get him to explain it.
This inconsistency is maddening to coaches, players, fans and many others. It is making this league look like a joke---especially to an American audience that you are trying to educate.
I can only wonder what goes through their minds when they see this stuff. This game has become unwatchable as it is happening time after time after time in games involving the green-and-white and games not involving the green-and-white.
With the NFL starting Thursday, it is making my choice of what football to watch a lot easier. In fact, I probably won't watch a snap of the Montreal-Toronto game next Sunday (the same could be said of many in Toronto ). This also begs the question why you would put a game in an NFL starved market on the opening day of the season because there is only one brand of football a majority of those in Toronto will be focussed on. If you want to blame someone for that, blame our clueless commissioner who I'm guessing didn't watch a snap of the Bombers-Riders game.
Now, at the end of the day, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers deserved to win the football game. They made the plays that counted. What transpired should not take away from what they accomplished. The Riders had their chances and let them get away. Tyler Crapigna had a terrible day, Darian Durant made some mistakes, it was another slow start, and Chris Jones was guilty of throwing a challenge flag because Naaman Roosevelt convinced him too when number 82 knew he didn't catch that pass in the endzone. The Riders simply made too many mistakes, but they just about stole one. The problem is the Andre Proulx crew, Glen Johnson and Jake Ireland made sure it wasn't going to happen. Hey, if you want to be an innovator Glen, here's an idea for you. Make these guys accountable for their calls. Each city can have a "pool" reporter (one guy asking questions who shares quotes and audio to all outlets) and you can do what other leagues don't do and put your officials in front of a microphone to explain themselves for the calls being made. I don't know if it would appease fans, but at least we would have some idea as to what is going through their mind when throwing that flag.
By the way Glen, thanks for ruining this game for Canadians from coast-to-coast. I hope your replacement does a much better job and I hope that replacement is starting on that task in 2017.
Other thoughts on the last LDC at Mosaic:
--Darian Durant threw a couple of bad 2nd half interceptions, but he had this offence moving. The Rider QB threw for 400 yards and is establishing a nice relationship with Caleb Holley. Holley, Roosevelt, Ricky Collins and Rob Bagg are becoming a nice receiving combo for #4. The play that stood out to me was after his interception to Johnny Adams, he delivered a hellacious hit on the Winnipeg defensive back causing him to fumble. 34 year old quarterbacks aren't supposed to do this, but Darian did. There aren't many quarterbacks in football period who would do what he did. Had the Riders recovered that fumble, it might have been the play of the game and would be shown on highlight reels across the country. He pulled off a Kerry Joseph and ran the ball into the endzone not once, but twice with that second one being a two point convert. He put this team on his back again! He was as despondent as anyone after the game. I know there are Durant haters out there, but I scratch my head as to why that is. There is talk this could be his last season. If I am Craig Reynolds, I am making sure this guy is in Rider green as my quarterback for the start of the new Mosaic Stadium era. Sign this guy to an extension, and do it before the season is over. Give Rider Nation some good news in the 2nd half of the season because even the most optimistic Rider fan has to know this season is over.
--Kendial Lawrence is breaking out of his funk. After a miserable start to his career in Rider green, Lawrence is starting to become the threat I thought he might be. His punt return touchdown might have been the catalyst for a big 2nd half from him.
-- With the exception of one 80 yard pass play to Quincy McDuffie, the Riders defence played a very solid game. You can see the improvement as Chris Jones' plan slowly starts to take shape.
--Tyler Crapigna was asked to give his take on what was a nightmarish afternoon for him, but when he was asked by a group of reporters including myself to speak, he respectfully declined. After e game, I learned he had spoken to the LP's Ian Hamilton, but he obviously didn't want to answer the same questions again. He wasn't rude about it and his wishes were granted. You would hope the young man would stand up and face the music the way Glen Suitor did in 1989, and Paul McCallum in 2004, but he was as crushed as the Riders were after the 2009 Grey Cup. I'm willing to give the kid some slack. I'm guessing he didn't very sleep well last night. Can you blame him? Lets not forget, he had made 19 of 21 three point tries going in. It was just one of those days. We've all had them!
--The Rider Nation showed their appreciation to Weston Dressler when he made his first catch of the afternoon, but they really showed it after the game and WD7 showed his appreciation right back. As I left the Riders dressing room, there was a mob scene as many were waiting for the former Rider.
Jerry Rice didn't look right in any other jersey except a Niners jersey, Geroy Simon didn't look right in any other jersey that wasn't a Lions jersey, and Weston doesn't look right in Bomber blue. While he is gone, his popularity isn't waning. The guy is just a class act.
GREAT NIGHT AT LEIBEL -- Saturday night was a great night for football at the home of Regina Minor Football.
Thanks to Regina Minor Football League Prez Kelly Hamilton for this pic as the Regina Thunder moved into Leibel Field for a game against the Winnipeg Rifles. I would think it turned out just the way everyone wanted it to be, The place was packed, the home team won, everyone had a good time and the facility was showcased. The only down side was the Thunder had a few key players hurt. I know the Thunder would like to make this a yearly event, and I can certainly see why and overwhelmingly endorse those thoughts. I'd love to see a Rams game in there, and I would love to see a Thunder-Hilltops matchup in there. That would be an event!
ONE PLAY!! - The season is a new one, the coach is a new one, but the achilles heel of the Regina Rams remains. When the team needs to make a stop, they don't. Thanks to a great night by Noah Picton, the Rams were in position to make Steve Bryce a winner in his coaching debut. All they had to do was stop the Huskies on a 3rd and 20 late in the 4th quarter and the game was theirs. Starting with a win against the U of S on their turf after what the team went through last year would have huge. It would have started the Bryce era on a tremendous high. NOPE!
As was the case last year, when the defense had to make a play, they didn't as the Huskies converted that 3rd and 20 play and went on to kick a field goal to send the game into overtime before winning it. Very frustrating, but very promising on the same level. Picton, who doesn't get the notoriety in CanWest other QB"s get, continues to dazzle with a great group of receivers including newcomer Khalid Kornegay. This team isn't going to winless this year, and they could very well improve to 1-1 against a Manitoba team that never has an easy time of it when they come into Mosaic. That will happen Thursday night.
By the way, it was great to see two of three Canwest games on SHAW/Access this weekend. Having the game showcased across Western Canada much the way the WHL is in the winter time is a tremendous publicity tool. People need to see how good the CIS game is, and the Rams and Huskies did that Friday.
That's all I've got. Have a great holiday Monday!