With two games left in the 2010 regular season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have grabbed the nation’s attention for all the wrong reasons.
Heading down the criticial homestretch the Roughriders have lost a mind-boggling three games in a row by a combined score of 97-69, including a 39-24 defeat at Edmonton on Saturday night. Only two late passing touchdowns in garbage time from backups Ryan Dinwiddie to Cary Koch made the score somewhat respectable for the clearly regressing Riders.
The loss extinguished any chance of the Riders finishing first for a second-straight year and enabled Calgary to clinch first-place while watching the game with their feet up on their coffee tables. It didn’t help that the Riders lost 34-26 to the Stampeders the week before IN Mosaic Stadium.
“We didn’t execute in any phase,” steamed Rider head coach Ken Miller after Saturday’s game. “We didn’t play with urgency and we didn’t coach with urgency. We need to be better in every aspect of our football program.”
The three game losing streak comes on the heels of a three game win streak and with a 9-7 record, the Riders can still finish a respectable 11-7. Even better, they can finish no worse than 9-9 meaning they haven’t had a losing season since 2002.
However as voice of the Riders I can’t remember a time in recent years where there’s been so much heat on Canada’s Team and, to be honest, deservedly so. The club looked below average in every area against the Eskimos who have now won two of three meetings between the clubs this year. It appears the long-time rivals are on a collision course for the 2010 western semifinal November 14 at Mosaic Stadium.
What’s worse for the Riders is that no one seems to have the answers as to why the team’s gone from being so dominant to being so inconsistent.
“I really can’t explain it,” shrugged Rider tailback Wes Cates. “We started off good and got momentum but I don’t know what happened after that. It’s crazy because we shoot ourselves in the foot.”
I noted at the top of this column that the Riders have gained nation-wide attention for their slide and it’s true. TSN’s Dave Hodge said on Sunday’s “The Reporters” that “the real cause for concern is in the Rider Nation”. Meanwhile CFL Insider Dave Naylor tweeted “It’s officially alarm bells time in Riderville”.
Both are right of course, but the Green & White are pleading with their fans not to turn their backs on them in their time of need.
“We need the whole province to believe,” Cates said. “When people talk bad about us on blogs and talkshows and don’t support us, it’s puts pressure where it doesn’t need to be. We need to come together as a province and get this back where we need to be.”
After all the thrills and chills this team has provided the Rider Nation over the past few years, this isn’t too much for Cates to ask, is it? (Rod Pedersen is the voice of the Riders on 620 CKRM)