The last time the Riders played at home on Aug. 17 they escaped with a 24-21 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on a sweltering day. The Riders struggled on offence and special teams, but the defense kept them in the game against an Als team that was hobbled by the loss of several starters to injury, including QB Anthony Calvillo.
Then in the final two minutes, the offence came alive, with QB Darian Durant hitting Taj Smith for a 65 yard TD strike to tie the game after the Als had gone ahead on a fumble recovery that was returned for a TD. That was followed by a last-play 36 yard field goal by Chris Milo that secured the victory. The field goal was set up by a 38 yard punt return by Weston Dressler (pictured above).
The next Saturday in Edmonton, the Riders escaped with another narrow victory 30-27 over the Eskimos on the strength of two TDs by Kory Sheets and five Chris Milo field goals. The win enabled the Green & White to run their record to a CFL best 7W-1L.
Next on the schedule is the annual Labour Day/Banjo Bowl home-and-home with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Like the Eskimos, the Bombers sport a 1W-7L record. In the Aug. 16 Rider Fan Forum Ron, Cal and Earl all predicted that come the Riders’ Sept. 14 home date against the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts they would sitting at 9W-1L. The margin of victory in the first two games may have been a little tighter than the panel expected, but they were wins nonetheless. And barring an upset of titanic proportions it’s hard to envision the Riders losing to a Winnipeg team that appears to be in free-fall with changes at the management level and uncertainty at QB due to injuries and general ineptitude.
Still, in sports as in life, it’s never wise to take anything for granted. And with tougher games looming on the horizon against the likes of Toronto, the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders, the Rider Faithful will be looking for their team to perform well in all three facets of the game as they enter the second half of the CFL season.
Game time at Mosaic Stadium is 2 p.m., and TSN will have the broadcast.