As many in Rider Nation found out, the sun still came out Monday morning, despite their heart and soul suffering a second straight loss to Montreal in the Grey Cup.
And at the risk of having a truck load of manure dumped on my front lawn, I’ll admit, I shed no tears when Billy Parker intercepted a last ditch effort from ‘Riders quarterback Darian Durant with just 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter, securing Montréal’s third Grey Cup championship since 2002.
After talking with some Saskatchewan fans in the hours following their latest defeat, it seemed this one was almost easier to take than 2009.
Of course, it’s hard to forget the infamous “13th man” incident from last year’s title game, where the Roughriders, leading 27-25 with almost no time left, lined up for a Montreal field goal attempt, watched Damon Duval’s kick go wide, and then had to watch Duval get another crack at the uprights after Saskatchewan was called for having too many men on the field.
But that was last year, and ‘Riders head coach Ken Miller was adamant leading up to the big game that last year’s crushing defeat and the way it unfolded would not be a motivating factor for his squad.
Sure Ken, we all buy that.
I don’t know about you, but if I lost a championship game on a last minute math error, and then got the chance for some redemption against the same team and on the same stage, you’re darn right I would use that as motivation.
Yes, the ‘Riders were in this one right up until that last minute interception, but the 2010 title game wasn’t lost on a brain fart, so I’m sure a few less tears were shed in Pilsners across the land of living skies.
The reason the ‘Riders lost this game was because of Durant’s inability to adapt to the defensive scheme of the Alouettes.
TSN analyst Jock Climie hit the nail on the head in the post game coverage when he pointed out that Durant couldn’t deal with Montreal’s zone coverage, which took away his ability to make the big play, as he has been known to do in his two seasons in the Canadian Football League.
The Alouettes were more than happy to drop back into zone coverage and force Durant to be patient, something Durant, it appeared, just couldn’t do.
Remember, this is a guy who tossed for over 5,500 yards during the regular season, yet his team was forced to punt eight consecutive times at one point during Sunday’s title game.
The one time Montreal did go with man to man coverage, Durant aired it out to Andy Fantuz, which led to Mark Parenteau’s first ever touchdown and made the score 21-18.
That’s why Montreal was willing to give up short yardage gains with zone coverage because Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman knew that if he tried to match up his defenders one on one that Durant would pick them apart.
In Durant’s defense, he was hampered by a hamstring injury, which limited his ability to attack Montreal’s defenders with his legs, and this young man has a very, very bright future in the CFL.
But the ‘Riders ultimately lost because their quarterback either couldn’t or wasn’t willing to take the short yardage gains the Alouettes were willing to give up.
Credit also has to be given to Al’s quarterback Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal offense, which played a heck of a game.
One more thought before I end the column for the week; how about a big hat tip to the City of Edmonton.
Despite everything that went down with the Eskimo Empire this past season, Edmontonians were able to brush that aside and put on one hell of a party.
One can only hope that next year’s hosts, the B.C. Lions, were watching.