No, the most important factor in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' loss to Edmonton shouldn't come as much surprise.
As I noted last week, the Eskimos are one of a few CFL teams plainly built around a model of forcing and capitalizing on turnovers. And on Saturday, the 'Riders obliged by handing Edmonton the ball in scoring position in many different ways: four times Edmonton was able to start drives inside the Saskatchewan 40, and the 17 points scored on those possessions matched the final margin of victory.
But more worrisome for the 'Riders was the fact that some of their usual strengths were nowhere to be found.
Saskatchewan's recent winning streak had been based largely on controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. But against Edmonton, that advantage disappeared.
While the 'Riders ended up with reasonable counting statistics both on the ground and through the air, their offence did little to control the line or the ball until the latter part of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Eskimos' offensive line was able to clear space for Hugh Charles seemingly at will
- even when the Esks went into in prevent mode in the fourth quarter.
And the 'Riders' pass defence also wasn't up to its usual standard of performance. Yes, a couple of questionable pass interference penalties helped the Eskimos out at key junctures. But the Esks managed to move the ball through the air with relatively little trouble even without taking those calls into account - ensuring the 'Riders had few opportunities to make up the ground they gave away early.
And as for the special teams which have been a strength through most of the season...well, I'll simply say they were nothing of the sort against Edmonton.
Unfortunately, Saturday's loss makes a home playoff game into a remote possibility at best for the 'Riders. Which means that in order to get anywhere in the postseason, Saskatchewan will need to figure out how to do in the playoffs what it couldn't do this weekend: win tough games on the road while at a disadvantage in preparation time.