Another week, another game where the Riders came close but couldn’t seal the deal.
Things were looking promising for the Roughriders right off the top when they were able to force a two and out on the Blue Bombers offence and follow it up with an impressive offensive showing themselves.
Darian Durant’s offence orchestrated at 72 yard march down the field that started with a 58 yard Naaman Roosevelt catch, but the signs of splinter came not long after when the Riders offence had four chances to punch in a short yardage touchdown and couldn’t. The team settled for a field goal and scored for the first time in the first quarter in four games.
That inability to finish would go on to haunt the Roughriders the rest of the game, which they lost 17-10.
“We need to execute when it matters down the stretch,” head coach Chris Jones said post-game. “In all three phases, failure to execute cost us the football game.”
Glaring examples of this came in the fourth quarter, starting with Caleb Holley getting stripped of the ball on the Bombers’ 20 yard line. Nichols and the Bomber offence were able to march it back down the field for a touchdown, leaving the score 17-10 with 10 minutes left.
Not long after a poorly executed fake punt by Roughrider back-up quarterback Brandon Bridge lead to a turnover on downs, giving the Bombers the ball back at midfield.
It had many questioning the play call, but Jones said there was no discussion on the bench about whether it was the right thing to do.
“We’re trying to score to win the football game. We’re trying to give ourselves a chance to keep possession of the football,” he explained.
“Once we got (the play) stretched out, we didn’t get vertical. (Bridge) bounced it one gap too far.”
The other thing the Roughriders struggled with was penalties. The team amassed 16 of them for 120 yards, including two major fouls in the first half that put Winnipeg on the goal line and led to a touchdown.
The head coach said he didn’t really think penalties were a huge problem until Saturday’s game.
“We’ll go back and we’ll look at it,” Jones said, while pointing the finger back at execution.
Football, he said will always come back to just two or three plays – his team just hasn’t be able to make them yet. But they will.
“I really don’t know what it is,” receiver Naaman Roosevelt said of why the team can’t seem to get a win. “We’re fighting hard every game … we just got to get better at finishing and just doing the little things right.”
Roosevelt himself did do a lot of things right, hitting the 1000 yard receiving mark on the year, and topping the CFL leader board for passing yards. He also caught 6 passes for 121 yards and the Riders only touchdown. His success was no shock to Durant.
“He understands football, he understands who to get open, he makes my job easy,” he said. “He’s just an awesome player.”
The Roughriders fall to 1-10 on the season. They will face off against Edmonton next Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
- Durant was 23 of 36 for 283 yards and a touchdown – which was actually about 40 yards better than Matt Nichol’s 21 of 31 for 247 yards. Nichols didn’t throw at touchdown, but he did rush one in.
- Crapigna was good in his only field goal attempt from 14 yards out. He also made the convert.
- Josh Bartel had an excellent game punting, his longest going 55 yards with his average 47.6 yards.
- Justin Cox topped the Riders on defence with five tackles and a forced fumble.
- Winnipeg sacked Durant three times during the game, the Riders defence did not get at Matt Nichols.
- The Banjo Bowl was a chippy game with 26 total penalties between both teams leading to more than 200 total penalty yards.
- The Bombers have now won six straight games for the first time in 15 years.