Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning 'Rider Blogging

A quick take on yesterday's West semi-final win against B.C. for the moment...

Throughout the 2010 season, the 'Riders have seemed to be a different team at different times. And against the Lions, we got to see all of them on display - leaving reason to wonder whether the team can put together the full 60 minutes it'll need to beat Calgary or the East finalist, even as we have to be glad they showed up in the right order.

It was Team Missed Opportunity that showed up to start the game. In their first four possessions the 'Riders used a combination of a turnover, some special-teams success and a couple of effective plays to give themselves first downs at their own 51, the midfield stripe, the B.C. 33 and then the B.C. 22. But a combination of poor execution in the Lions' zone, two sacks and a missed field goal resulted in the team scoring only four points off those possessions.

That failure to convert on early opportunities looked like it might be fatal when Team Misfire showed up around the middle of the second quarter. Suddenly the 'Riders were completely ineffective trying to move the ball, and the defence went from swarming Travis Lulay to hanging on by the skin of its teeth as the Lions moved the ball downfield without much trouble. And when the Lions managed to turn a drive starting on their own 6 into a field goal to boost their lead to 12, there wasn't much indication that the 'Riders would be able to fight back.

But fortunately, Team Whatever It Takes showed up for the rest of the game. The offence suddenly starting functioning again, piecing together an ugly but effective touchdown drive on the ground to bring the game back within reach, then taking the lead on Darian Durant's rainbow pass to Weston Dressler. And while the Lions managed to tie the game at the end of regulation thanks to a sloppy defensive possession when it counted most, the 'Riders' offence kept up its habit of overtime effectiveness to pull out the win.

The bad news for next week is that I'm not sure we can afford to see either of the first two versions of the 'Riders from here on in. But it's at least for the best that the team found the right persona when it counted yesterday - and hopefully the 'Riders can keep up their late-game momentum from the beginning against Calgary.

(Edit: fixed wording.)


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