It was a game that was 33 years in the making, and it didn’t disappoint.
The Riders dominated the Stampeders in every facet of that football game on Nov. 22. Forget about the law of averages and the Riders beating Calgary all year, or the Riders having all the pressure on them, or whatever other statistic the Stamps or any other non-believer wants to throw at this team.
The humble and character-filled Roughriders showed Calgary and the rest of the league what happens when you have a group of guys who believe in each other and play as a team. And now we’re going back to the Grey Cup for the second time in three years. Incredible!
Never in my life have I seen anything like it. I knew it was going to be raucous and rambunctious in the house of Riders but this was something else. The sea of green that took over Mosaic on Nov. 22 was downright tingling. For hours the throng of Rider Priders poured cheers over the Mosaic Stadium turf, creating a surreal scene never witnessed before.
There were times throughout the game that I thought I was going to pass out in my seat from screaming so much. In fact, I got so overzealous on the first Rider touchdown that the 15-foot pole of my giant Riders flag snapped! For a second I thought it might have been a bad omen but it doesn’t seem my superstitions or anything else is going to deny this team right now.
There’s no question that the turning point of the game was the Jason Armstead kick-off return. Not only did the return put the Riders in automatic scoring position, but it quelled any nerves as to whether the Riders would continue their third-quarter woes. Two third-quarter touchdowns made the difference in the game and unlike so many games this season that had us fans wondering if we could hold on to the lead for the second half, the Riders took care of business. And how about Armstead’s throw?
The defence that was questioned all week as to whether it could stop Burris and the gang, stopped Burris and the gang that night and pretty much all season. And what more can be said about Darian Durant — he makes me feel good about life. Always calm, cool and collected, Durant, delivered a near flawless game in his first playoff start. He will be this team’s next career quarterback. Now go and get the Cup, Darian!
We knew the 13th man that is the Rider crowd would be the difference. We knew the Riders were the better team. We knew Calgary couldn’t compete with Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, we know that our team can accomplish anything. Let the rest of the league, the prognosticators and nay-sayers of Canada question the Riders, but we now know we’re in the Grey Cup, and for now, that’s good enough.
Sure the Riders haven’t beaten Montreal all season and now would seem like a perfect opportunity to once again question the Green and White, right? I’ll leave that up to the experts, and stick with my green-coloured glasses.
Now, on to Calgary on Nov. 29 for a Riders’ Grey Cup win. Final prediction: Riders 35, Als 32.
image: Jordon Cooper