To The Point: Riders Lose 35-32/D Gets An F?

Another tough one for the Saskatchewan Roughriders who drop to 0-3 on the season after an overtime loss in BC on Saturday night. Here’s my running analysis from the contest.

1st Quarter:

Weston Dressler despite his small stature has started out fearlessly going over the middle against the BC defence.
Riders first offensive possession comes to a close after a failed second and long run by Kevin Glenn. The play would have gone for naught though as the Riders Chris Best was flagged for holding. The second penalty for the Riders in the opening 3 minutes. The first came on the kick-off return.

Perhaps the first mistake of the game. Despite Ray Early’s punt drifting into the end zone the Lions, inexplicably, run the ball out. First and ten inside their own ten for B.C. Can the Riders defence make a statement early?
First BC offensive play is scrubbed by an offensive penalty back the Lions up again. Objectionable conduct is an interesting call and an even less impressive penalty.

After a pair of first downs the BC offence stalls with a dropped pass and the Riders offence can go back to work.

The Riders second series is very controlled. On second and long though, a great audible by Kevin Glenn to hand the ball off to Anthony Allen for a first down, drive continues what a veteran move! Ensuing play is a TD pass to Weston Dressler who is wide open thanks to the new no-contact rules in the secondary. 7-nothing Riders after a good McCallum convert.

The BC offence is on the field and Travis Lulay on first down goes deep. Can’t believe that there is no pass interference call on the Riders as there was obviously contact on the receiver after 5 yards. The only thing consistent about the contact on a receiver and pass interference calls seems to be their inconsistency.

Third Rider possession ends with an interception as Kevin Glenn looking for Taj Smith gift wraps one for the Lions. BC inside the Riders 40 yard line. These types of plays are the ones that have plagued Kevin Glenn through his career. Can the defence bale him out?

After a first down Rider D does a nice job on second and six to limit the damage of a pass to Emanuel Arsenaux. All this despite the Lions receiver being 5 yards off-side on the play. Lions settle for a field-goal 7-3 Saskatchewan late in the opening quarter. By the way there has to be some give and take as the receivers have such an advantage that the least the league could do is to clamp down and make the receivers time their waggle.
Riders have a bit of a personnel blip prior to the final play of the opening quarter. Glenn takes a time-out and gets things set so the Riders can convert on second and medium with a pass to Taj Smith over the middle.

The opening quarter ends. Saskatchewan 7 – B.C. 3.

2nd Quarter:

The Riders drive stalls after a pair of spectacular defensive plays by the Lions. Early on to punt.

B.C offence comes on to work after a nice return and one play later they are nearing midfield. Next play and Travis Lulay has extended time in the pocket and is able to find a wide open receiver inside Rider territory. A hand-off to Andrew Harris and the Lions are first and 10 at the Rider 11. Second down and the Lions throw into the end zone and another seemingly obvious contact on a receiver/pass interference call is not made. Austin Collie debates and is called for objectionable conduct. Head Coach Jeff Tedford will challenge the ruling. After review the correct call is made and pass interference is assessed. However, instead of the ball being placed on the one-yard line it should be moved back after the objectionable conduct call. What a gong show! Of note the Riders have extended another drive this season with a penalty and perhaps more particularly to Macho Harris.

The ball is moved to the 11 yard line 1st and 10. Two plays and the Riders defence is able to stop BC. Its’ the Riders first red zone stop of the season! They were previously oh-for-8. B.C. settles for a field goal. Saskatchewan 7 – B.C. 6.
Riders offence comes on to the field and 15 minutes after the Lions were well off-side the Riders get flagged for a receiver mis-timing his waggle. The call has to be consistent. The penalty wipes out a first down so the Riders have to kick.

Lions go two and out but not before Travis Lulay has all day to make a play on second down. The lack of pass rush by the Riders is a problem. However, part of that comes from a heads-up play by the Lions. Realizing that John Chick was on the Rider sideline they go no huddle on second and long meaning that the Riders cannot substitute in their premier pass rusher.

AS the Riders are on offence TSN flashes the QB competition percentages from across the league alluding to the new rules being a help. Ricky Ray’s single season mark of 77.2% may be in jeopardy. However, his record should have an asterisks beside it denoting done legitimately.

Rider offensive series continues thanks to a contact on a receiver penalty. Riders try play-action pass and Glenn takes a shot to the helmet. Should have been a penalty! None called, yikes! I would hate to see the officials grades on this one. Not a great effort, thus far. After a time count now a false start. The Riders have a revolver squarely pointed at their foot on this series. The Lions return the favour with a roughing the passer penalty. Drive continues with the first questionable play-call of the evening. A second and short toss to Jerome Messam in the backfield is good for a first down despite appearing to lose yardage. After numerous penalties and drops the Riders have to kick the ball.Good boot by Early pins the Lions inside their 10.

With 2:07 left on the clock Lions have 100 yards to go for a TD. The Lions on first down have confusion in the backfield. The Rider pass rush still can’t get there. On second down a screen pass nets a first down. Another first down and the Riders are looking like they did in the late stages of the loss last week to Toronto when the Argos drove the field. Deep throw to Collie is incomplete but after every play you have to scan the field looking for flags, fans and players! Second down and the entire Rider defensive line jumps offside. No Call! Incredible! Lions able to get the first down, though. On second and long Travis Lulay drops the football and despite two shots at the ball the Green and

White can’t come up with it. Another half with no turnovers created by the defence. Lions basically run out the clock and kick it away. The first half is over. Saskatchewan 7 – BC 6.

3rd Quarter:

So TSN’s banter at half not about the defences, the strategy, the lack of Andrew Harris being used by the BC Lions, instead it is about the validity of objectionable conduct calls for those trying to lobby for pass interference calls. Come on! It was getting ridiculous with receivers after every play trying to “get a call.” The rule is black and white, figure it out. Do you want to make it subjective? If so get ready for different interpretations official to official, game to game and play to play.

BC to receive the ball and we are underway in the second half. AND here we go again, another injured Canadian as former U of S Huskie Levi Steinhauer is being attended to on the field. The injury woes continue for the Riders and especially to their Riders nationals.

After a delay the BC offence comes onto the field and a first pass completion to Arsenaux is all but negated by a procedure call on second down. Flag count for the second half = 1. BTW the longest stretch without a flag in the first half was 10 plays. Lulay throws a dart on second and long into Rider territory. One first down Tristan Jackson lays a lick. Another second and long and another completion this time in front of Jackson add on a roughing the passer penalty and the Lions are on the door step. (Flag count 2). Two plays and Lions are inside the Rider five. After a stop on first down Austin Collie drops one in the end zone. Surprised no flag on Jackson as it was a bang bang play and officials seem to have been calling that more often than not. Field goal attempt is good. Lions take their first lead 9-7.

Riders offence comes out and goes two and out after a poor throw by Glenn on second down due to a collapsing passing lane. BC offence to go back to work. Note no penalties on that sequence.

Riders make two successive plays and the Lions offence exit the field. After a big hit by Brackenridge TSN is debating whether it’s touch football.

Lions towering kick is taken by Tristan Jackson, he continues to go east-west as opposed to north-south on his returns. Is that the Riders scheme or is that all that is open?

Second drive for the Riders will have a nice starting point across the Riders 45. After a lack-luster start to the half the Riders get a first down keeping the ball on the ground. Next play a big hole opens up for Jerome Messam, 41 yards and the Riders are in the score zone. NOTE: No flags… yet! Unfortunately another Rider is shaken up. This time it’s Taj Smith in a great deal of discomfort. Riders cap the drive with a pass to an open Dressler in the end zone. However, on the back side of the formation Chris Getzlaf is wide open. Has Getz fallen out of favor with the Riders? Had a drop in the opening half. Riders go for two and on a play designed to Dressler it’s good. Riders lead 15-9.
Good news on the Rider kick-off as Levi Steinhauer is back on the field. Lions offence comes on to the field and the pitch and catch continues as defenders can’t keep up to the receivers. Lions offence are moving the ball at will. Yes Brackenridge has made another big hit but it was after the catch. Here comes the flag Flag count up to 3 in the half this time offensive pass interference. Riders defence stops the Lions another field goal attempt coming. 42 yarder is good. SSK 15 – BC 12.

Rider offence is back on the field and Jamal Richardson comes up with his first catch of the night. Richardson still has some wheels. Riders offence has found some traction, thanks to the running game. Play-action sets up Spence Moore to move the sticks. Last play of the third quarter is a hand off to Jerome Messam. Riders inside the Lions 25 and look to add to the lead as the third quarter comes to a close Saskatchewan 15 – BC 12.

4th Quarter:

Pretty simple to start the quarter. The Riders have a chance to to make a statement and make it a two possession game. Can they convert in BC territory? On second and four two BC Lions are tackled on the line of scrimmage.

However, the flag (4th of the half) is roughing the passer. Yikes! Next play is a nice end around to Taj Smith, inside the BC 5. Flag count up to 5 as BC is off-side making it first and goal for the Riders after they were stopped on second down. Touchdown Brett Smith as he sneaks in from the goal line! Penalty aided TD driving is a big one for the Green and White. Riders go for a single on the convert. McCallum is good. SK 22 – BC 12.

Next Lions drive starts with a heck of a defensive play by the Riders. Wow what a coverage play by the Riders may be the first one in the CFL this season! Second down is a dump off to Andrew Harris that is short of the first down. Two and out for the Lions.

6th flag of the half is for no yards to BC. Riders to start with good field position. Rider series starts with an amazing one handed catch by Weston Dressler. Second down is air mailed to Jamal Richardson. Two and out for the Riders. Saskatchewan does a great job in punt coverage by the Riders. Lions start at their 35.

Flags down after Riders get a pass rush but illegal contact on a receiver (penalty 7) makes it first down. Flag 8 to the Lions for blocking downfield first and 20. Poor tacking by the Riders, understatement of the night, and Andrew

Harris runs for a first down on a screen pass. Second and short and Harris makes the Rider look silly running through the middle of the defence for 14 yards and a first down. Another short pass to Harris another first down. Riders do not have an answer, is this the prevent defence again? One first down Harris breaks tackles from John Chick and Alex Hall. Where have they been all night/season? Second and three Rider defence bites on play fake and Rolly Lambala rumbles for the major. The lines first red zone touchdown of the night. Single point convert sails wide right. Riders 22 – Lions 18.

Riders offence goes back to work with a first down after a pair of runs. Clock management correction from last week? Check that Jamal Richardson and Glenn hook up deep Riders now at the BC 10. Glenn throw is incomplete at the back of the end-zone holding call against the Riders (flag # 9 of the half) first and 20. Throw to Messam gets halfway to the end zone. BC using some clock management calls timeout. Second and goal from the 10. Throw into the end zone complete to Dressler. Hands to the face holding on Labbatt negates the score. Second down repeated. (Flag # 10) Flags all over the field! Illegal contact, and holding (Flags 11 and 12) second and goal (again) but the three minute warning given. Second and goal again from the 20. Could this be three down territory for the Riders with only a 3 point lead? Glenn forced to dump the ball short to Taj Smith guess what another flag. Illegal contact (Flag 13). Ball goes back to the 10. Riders think outside the box and hand it off to Anthony Allen and he scampers for the TD. BIG PLAY. BIG kahunas by Jacques Chapdelaine to make the play call as if it doesn’t work he is the goat all week. McCallum convert is good Riders 29-18.

Lulay back on the field with 2:15 to go needs two scores. First down is a pass to Arsenault and Tristan Jackson with his head down makes a tackle and stays down. Riders will need to make a substitution. Can Lulay exploit a new corner. Jackson luckily appears to be OK. After another first down the Riders are about to be flagged again, this time for face-masking. Make it 14 flags in the half. Lions with the ball on the Rider side of mid-field. Lulay all day to throw hooks up with Austie Collie, who tip-toes into the end zone. Two point convert to come. Lulay hooks up with Collie after a brilliant route SK 29 – Lions 26. 43 seconds for the drive to get the ball into the end zone. Oh boy!

98 seconds to go and Lions will kick the ball deep. Sure handed Dressler slides at the 26. Can the offence move the ball enough to keep the ball. Everyone knows the Riders are going to run. Anthony Allen finds a big hole with the offensive line and dashes for a first down. BC have to spend their final time out. Meaning they cannot stop the clock or challenge a pass interference call for the rest of the game. After the time out Riders muff a hand-off and Riders are second and long with 70 seconds to go. Messam gets the ball and pushes near the first down. So who does CoachChamblin trust more, his offensive line to get the first down or his defence to get a stop after a punt? Coach C chooses offence, Brett Smith and the short yardage team are coming out. A first down seals the deal. Play of the game and the ball is loose BC has it here comes the challenge! Smith was up to high on the play. Forward progress appeared to have stopped. Can the command centre save the Riders? Another wayyyy tooo loooong review. Rider offence is going back on the field. Unfortunately I think it will be for not. Ruling on the field is BC ball. With lack of camera angles in the CFL no way to overturn or short-yardage plays. After review BC Ball on the 48.

Can the Rider defence protect the win? 43 seconds left. First down incomplete late flag for the Lions (make that #15). Second down and another flag down, this is RIDICULOUS! (#16) Good thing Saskatoon’s Tim Kroeker is so personable on camera as he is getting his share of face time tonight! Lulay’s pass is complete to the Rider 49 no first down Leone to try a long field goal for the tie? 31 seconds left, injury time out. This attempt will be from 55 yards out and he nails it with 15 seconds left to go. Tie Game 29-29.

Incredibly the Riders are going to down the ball and go to overtime. Wow! The Riders for the second week in a row squander a leader and now must roll the dice in extra time.

OT:

First play and flag 17 as the Riders get called for procedure. Riders losing the coin toss could hurt as the pressure is on them to score first. Here comes flag 18 as illegal contact will give the Riders another chance to get a first down after a pair of passes almost picked by the Lions. Riders are short on second and five less than a yard to go offence stays out. Here we go again! Hold the phone McCallum is coming out to try a field goal his 33 yarder is good. 32-29 for the Riders. The defence now needs to win or preserve the win.

Lions turn and first down to Shawn Gore inside the Riders 10. Shotty tackling allows him to turn a small gain into a big one. First and goal Harris stopped at the 5, Brackenridge a big play. Game on the line on second down and Lulay pass complete to Arsenaux game over Lions win 35-32. Lions improve to 1-1, Riders fall to 0-3.

THOUGHTS: The Rider defence once again allowed an opponent to come back on them in the late stages of a game. Travis Lulay’s ability to throw for 400 yards in large part is due to a lack of pass rush. The back end of the home and home is going to be a big one next week!