All along the Saskatchewan Roughriders could say they were close. That was not the case on Sunday.
The Riders were dominated, embarrassed, destroyed, however you want to describe it, in a 35-13 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks.
“We came out in the second half and just played losing football,” said head coach Corey Chamblin.
“They played some good football. We just didn’t have it and we weren’t together. We looked more like individuals than a team in that second half.”
Chamblin was again unwilling to take responsibility for his team’s loss, instead using his usual line that it’s a team game and they all win or lose together.
“Brett didn’t master that situation. There was some other things there. Wanted to be able to make a change, allow him to see the game,” — Corey Chamblin
However, this loss is one where most of the blame should be placed at the feet of the coach for one decision. It’s a decision that not only cost them the game, but might have lost Chamblin the room and perhaps even his job.
Just before the half, with the Riders down 14-10, quarterback Brett Smith was pulled from the game after throwing an interception in the end zone. Tino Sunseri would come in and play the rest of the night.
“Brett didn’t master that situation. There was some other things there. Wanted to be able to make a change, allow him to see the game,” said Chamblin.
“Tino ended up finishing the game and we didn’t get what we wanted there.”
That moment seemed to change the game. None of the players asked after the game said it but the play on the field changed and it didn’t appear that the move was well received.
Smith for his part was saying the right things after the game.
“I was disappointed. It was frustrating. But, there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Smith.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. At that point, just trying to rally around the guys.”
While Smith was saying the right things after the game, according to the coach, he wasn’t pleased with the move at the time.
“He didn’t take it too well. That’s a part of the thing that kept it going. We have to be professionals all the way around. We have to handle that situation and win that situation. It’s not just with the ball and without the ball,” said Chamblin.
What’s more perplexing than the move itself, is the seemingly lack of consequences other players faced for not “mastering the situation.” Again on this night, penalties took points off the board and kept the RedBlacks on the field leading to points for the home team.
Sunseri and Miller both fumbled and lost the ball. Both remained on the field.
“You can only make so many changes. I only have a 44-man roster,” said Chamblin.
Chamblin also wouldn’t name a starting quarterback for next week’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
While Smith stood up and answered questions from the media gathered around after the game. Tino Sunseri was unavailable for comment.
Chamblin had no thoughts of putting third string quarterback Keith Price in late in the game when it was out of reach.
Smith finished the night six-for-10 for 68 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. Sunseri was 12-for-18 for 165 yards passing.
The Redblacks sacked Smith and Sunseri a total of 10 times. Eight of those sacks were on Sunseri.
The Riders blocked a punt for a second week in a row, this time it was Dan West getting in the way of the kick. The play led to Smith finding Naaman Roosevelt for his first career CFL touchdown.
Sunseri was the team’s leading rusher with 33 yards.
The Riders will likely return to practice on Wednesday as they get ready to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Labour Day Classic.