The Saskatchewan Roughriders wasted a prime opportunity to show they are a contender against the Calgary Stampaders on Saturday.
The Riders’ defence went above and beyond to give them a chance to win, but the offense couldn’t get it done in the 29-25 loss at McMahon Stadium.
The loss puts the 11-6 Riders out of contention for first place, guaranteeing them a second place finish in the Western Conference behind the first-place Stamps.
George Cortez came into the Riders organization hyped as the cream of the crop of offensive coordinators. But more times than not, including the Stamps loss, the Riders’ offensive play calling has been questionable to say the least. Against Calgary, the Riders didn’t even try to generate a ground game. They only handed the ball off to Kory Sheets 11 times and didn’t bother rolling two running backs. They also only had three receivers running routes on occasions where they needed a long gain in the air. This makes zero sense with it being easy for Calgary’s defensive backs to cover a trio of receivers.
Darian Durant was the other factor that seemed to hold back the offense. He only completed 17 of his 31 passes, couldn’t punch in a touchdown when the Riders started with the ball at the Stamps’ seven-yard line because of a Stamps fumble in the second quarter, and he threw an interception with the game on the line in the last offensive drive.
Calgary’s Jon Cornish showed up Sheets, albeit he had nine less carries, in the battle of the league’s top running backs. Cornish racked up 109 yards on the ground in 20 carries, besting Sheets by 67 yards.
There can’t be many complaints thrown the defence’s way. They landed three sacks and forced three timely fumbles. They, however, did struggle to contain Drew Tate when he replaced Kevin Glenn in the second half behind centre.
Riders head coach Corey Chamblin tried to push the blame on the officiating.
“The penalty on Maze towards the end was the big play as far as I’m concerned,” Chamblin told 620 CKRM’s Carm Carteri. “From where we were standing, we didn’t think it was a flag and then some of our guys started to beak so we got an additional one. It’s tough, but like I told the guys we have to be careful. Are we pissed about it, yeah I am because there were some calls out there I didn’t agree with, but at the end of the day we have to be able to overcome those things. It’s tough to see the game end the way it did, but its lessons learned. If we get a break here or there, we aren’t having this conversation, but we are.”
Defensive lineman Tearrius George, who captured four tackles and one sack, made it known that there were some ‘angry guys’ in the Riders’ dressing room after the loss.
“We have some angry guys in this room,” George told 620 CKRM. “You try telling those 50 or 60 guys in there that next week means nothing. We have a lot of guys who are hurt and upset right now. I told them to sulk or do whatever, but get back to practice next week and get ready because it’s our intention to come back here and get the job done.”
The Riders host the Edmonton Eskimos next Saturday at Mosaic Stadium. The game doesn’t have any effect on the standings, though, as the Riders first-round playoff match at home against the B.C. Lions on Nov. 10 is set in stone.