You can say it was a step back. It was a small one, but definitely not a move in the right direction.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were denied a third-straight win Sunday in Montreal, falling 28-17 to the first-place Alouettes. In the process, the Riders dropped to 5-6 and remain technically in third-place in the CFL West.
Did you watch it? The Alouettes jumped out to a 14-3 lead after one quarter and their lead swelled to 22-6 by halftime. However the Riders completely neutralized Montreal's offence in the second half limiting quarterback Anthony Calvillo to 30 yards passing over the final 30 minutes.
Unfortunately once the defence got going, the offence stalled. Quarterback Drew Willy, making his first pro start in place of the injured Darian Durant, was unable to replicate his heroics from the week before in the comeback win at the Banjo Bowl. Two second half interceptions plus two missed field goals by Sandro Deangelis snuffed out any chance of a road victory.
It's too bad. The game was there to be won but the club lost the turnover battle 4-2 and took almost 200 yards in penalties. Many of them were of the needless variety, and sustained Montreal drives.
"That's football," shrugged Rider coach Corey Chamblin. "There was an opportunity for us to take this game but we didn't take it. Cinderella didn't show up twice. We need to look at ourselves with the penalties and the turnovers."
Riders' leading receiver Weston Dressler was a lot more cutting in his postgame comments saying "It's time for this thing to grow up".
On a daily basis Dressler is growing more and more as a leader, saying the things which need to be said, but that comment was particularly poignant.
Just who ARE these Roughriders? They've definitely been a Jekyll and Hyde bunch, starting the season at 3-0, losing five in a row and then rebounding with a back-to-back sweep of rival Winnipeg.
And now this.
It's head-scratching to examine Sunday's game. It was right there for them, but as defensive lineman Terrius George said "We just didn't want to take it".
Oh well. If there was a game that Riders could afford to lose it was this one, rather than the upcoming home games against division foes Calgary and BC.
They're learning. Sometimes at a painfully slow pace, but they're definitely learning. All that matters is that they secure a playoff spot and then, as we all know, anything can happen!
(Rod Pedersen is the voice of the Riders on CKRM radio)