Six weeks ago, Rider Nation would have celebrated today’s victory big time. It would have partially atoned for a 33-3 drubbing the Green & White absorbed in Hamilton in mid-July that dropped them to 0-3 and, more importantly, kept them in the hunt for a CFL playoff birth.
That dream died in late September. So the W that the Riders got today is considerably less significant. To begin with, the Tabbies are playing out the string too. They can’t improve on their playoff position, and will travel to either Winnipeg or Montreal for the CFL East Semi-Final. They were also missing star rookie receiver Chris Williams. There was also a hellacious north wind that played havoc with the passing and kicking games of both teams.
With an eye to scoring the first pick in the 2012 CFL draft, Rider supporters probably wouldn’t have minded in they’d lost the game. Now, they’re tied with Toronto and might possibly hold the tie-breaker against them if it’s Points For and Against.
I had a ticket to the game, but couldn’t attend because on weekends I give my dad his meds at his independent living facility instead of home care so he can sleep in. But from what I saw on TV, the Riders were probably lucky to win. They played well on defense. Two newcomers, DB Tyron Brackenridge and linebacker Chris Graham, made favourable impressions. But offensively Hamilton played horrible. The Riders had something like five interceptions, I think, and two were in the end zone.
On offense, the Riders moved the ball in fits and starts. Ryan Dinwiddie went 7-20 for 139 yards. Conditions were challenging, admitedly. But as a passer, Dinwiddie did not look good. He did run the ball effectively, though, gaining 53 yards on eight carries. But considering all the turnovers, and the way the Rider D shut down the Ti-Cat offense for most of the game, the Riders should have scored more points. Kicker Chris Milo had four punt singles, I believe, including one on a 108-yard boomer.
Third-string QB Cole Bergquist played one series. I think most Rider fans found that disappointing. No offense to Dinwiddie, but I doubt there’s a fan out there who wants to see him quarterbacking the Riders at any time in 2012. On one of two passes Bergquist threw (both fell incomplete) I liked how he looked off the safety and then threw to the other side of the field. But outside of that, who knows if he should be with the Riders heading into 2012 or not. Hopefully, with the season finale in Edmonton on Nov. 4, we’ll have an opportunity to find out.
Keep an eye out after that game for the third and final instalment in our Rider Fan Forum. Ron Mexico, Earl Camembert and Cal Corduroy will review the season, look ahead to the playoffs, and offer their thoughts on what the Riders need to do in the off-season to return to contention in 2012.