Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders
The fans at Mosaic Stadium once again got their money’s worth on Friday night even if they left unhappy following a 36-27 loss to the Edmonton Elks.
The string of wild games in Regina this season continued, with numerous lead changes, lots of scoring, trick plays, and more.
The good news for the Riders is they still control their destiny when it comes to finishing third in the West, but they certainly left the door open for the Elks to sneak their way in should things go sideways.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ seventh loss of the season.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to say this, but you can’t pin this one on the offence.
For far too long, it’s felt like when the Riders lose a game, it’s generally because they couldn’t sustain drives and score points. While that’s technically true of every loss, when your quarterback throws three touchdowns in a game, the offence has given you a chance to win that game.
Quarterback Jake Dolegala was once again on the money, with three receivers cracking the 50-yard mark. The Riders didn’t even trail until there were six minutes left in the game.
The overall numbers weren’t gaudy, but one of Dolegala’s touchdowns did come on a short field following an interception. They could have been better down the stretch, no question, but for the first time in a number of years, you can confidently say that the Riders’ offence is capable of winning games and putting up numbers when the defence is off.
The bad news? The offence might have to start winning them more games.
It was easy to write off last week’s loss to the Bombers as Winnipeg going into death star mode. They were a team on a mission.
After this week, it’s officially time to hit the panic button when it comes to this defence. Jason Shivers’ bunch was once the backbone of this team, but they’ve now given up 117 points in the last three games. As a group, the Riders haven’t held the opposition to fewer than 25 points since their 26-24 win over the Ottawa Redblacks all the way back on August 6.
The Elks gashed the Riders for 437 net yards of offence, including an unacceptable 265 yards on the ground. The Green and White came into this game having given up the most points in the league and this effort sure isn’t going to help.
While this contributor enjoys back-and-forth football where defence can often be optional, unless everyone is doing it, odds are it’s not going to get you very far when it matters most.
I’ve been holding off writing about this in favour of focusing on the play on the field, but I just can’t stay silent anymore.
The CFL and CFLPA recently revamped their rules around the previously toothless air quality procedure, but nothing seems to have changed.
On Friday night in Regina, Environment Canada measured the air quality index at nine early in the game, later bumping it up to 10 at 8:00 p.m. Both of those ratings are well beyond the level that is supposed to postpone a game, which is a seven. An air quality advisory was also issued just after 9:30 p.m. local time.
Unless the league can provide evidence of the air being better in the stadium, this is another in a series of games that probably shouldn’t have been played.
I’m not sure what’s worse, not having a rule surrounding air quality or having one for the optics but not following it. Lightning that is miles from the stadium and far less likely to injure anyone can shut down a game but surrounding yourself with terrible air for up to three hours is apparently fine.
The league, the teams and the players may not want to miss out on game revenue and that’s fine, but there’s more than their safety to consider here.
As I mentioned earlier, this game featured a little bit of everything, including a couple of trick plays.
Both the Elks and the Riders treated us to a well-executed fake sneak.
A.C. stands for Always Catching!
Defensive end A.C. Leonard with the callback to his tight end days on this TD.#CFL #Elks #GoElks @ACLeonard_81
— 3DownNation (@3DownNation) September 16, 2023
Antonio Pipkin got tired of sneaking around.#CFL #Riders #RiderNation @T_Pip2
— 3DownNation (@3DownNation) September 16, 2023
The Elks certainly get bonus points for throwing to defensive end A.C. Leonard who is suddenly a pass-catching machine once again. Though Antonio Pipkin had both Jamal Morrow and Tevin Jones open with Leonard chasing on his play.
If that wasn’t enough for you, Riders’ linebacker A.J. Allen had Edmonton linebacker Josiah Schakel’s helmet hook onto his during an early punt.
Things you’ve not seen in a CFL game before: pic.twitter.com/woFoSJUuwx
— CFL (@CFL) September 16, 2023
I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen before.