A tale of two games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night but when all was said and done it was the same old story.
The Riders are now 1-11 on the season following a 30-27 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks at Mosaic Stadium.
“Some of the little challenges we’ve had in the past came back at inopportune times and we weren’t able to finish with a victory,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
Once again on this night, the Riders were done in by the inability to take advantage of opportunities at important times, some bad penalties and defensive letdowns when it mattered most.
That’s basically been the story for this year for the Riders and 12 games in there still isn’t a cure for what ails them.
“I don’t know. I don’t have any answers right now about that.. If I had the answers, I would be telling everybody. I wouldn’t be keeping it a secret,” said quarterback Kevin Glenn.
For most of the night, it looked like the Riders had a chance to write a different end to this story.
At the end of the first half, they actually lead 20-14. The home team was actually playing pretty well, the offence looked comfortable with the return of Glenn who missed the last six games due to injury. They set a season-high for points in the first half. The defence was doing enough to get by.
In the second half, that’s when things started going sideways, again.
First, the defence was shredded by Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris to the tune of 477 yards passing by the end of the game.
“This is on the players,” said defensive back Marshay Green.
“They did everything that we expected. They took the short stuff. They were dinking and dunking. They did everything that we expected.”
The offence wasn’t impressive in the final 30 minutes either as only seven more points were added from the half-time score despite the fact they were gifted good field position a few times after a couple of Burris fumbles and a long kick-return from defensive back Tristan Jackson after the Redblacks scored a touchdown late in the fourth.
“We have to score touchdowns when we get into the score zone. It’s just that simple,” said Dyce.
Just what’s going to happen to this team seems a little predictable at times, as we’ve seen it over and over again.
Do the players get that same sense of Déja-vu?
“I don’t hear it on the sidelines,” said Glenn.
“Until it’s the end of the game, those kind of thoughts could possibly go through your head. I don’t go through that on the sideline. I just feel if we get the ball enough times, we’ll have an opportunity to score.”
Most of the season, we’ve been told the players and coaches haven’t been frustrated with the outcomes and how they’ve reached them.
For the first time this year, it appears that frustration might finally be starting to vocalized, just a little bit.
“Right now everybody, like ‘come on, we had this game’,” said defensive back Junior Mertile.
“It gets very frustrating. You don’t know what to say or what to do. Hopefully, the door will breakdown.”
Glenn finished his first game back under centre completing 16 of 29 pass attempts for 227 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The ground game was more-or-less forgotten again with running back Jerome Messam leading the way with 53 yards rushing. Naaman Roosevelt was the team’s top receiver with 95 yards and a touchdown.
After being gashed for 92 yards and three touchdowns in their last meeting, Redblacks running back Jeremiah Johnson had just 29 yards on 10 carries.
Defensive back Tristan Jackson and linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. had eight tackles each. Linebacker Tyron Brackenridge and defensive lineman John Chick, Alex Hall and Andre Monroe all had sacks.
The Riders will return to practice on Wednesday. They host the Montreal Alouettes next Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.