Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com Staff
REGINA -- With many thinking the Saskatchewan Roughriders chances at hosting a playoff game and being in the playoffs had been knocked out after a rough four game losing streak, the team bounced up off the canvas and let everyone know they have a lot of fight left in them.
Just five days after losing in Montreal, the Riders went into BC Place and beat a Lions team that had not lost at home since the stadium was renovated, as they dominated the Lions 31-17.
No one has been feeling more heat than quarterback Darian Durant during the four game streak. Durant looked like the Durant we had seen during the first half of the season as he had complete command of the offence.
He was obviously very happy to get the win, but he was also very happy to have Kory Sheets back in the huddle with him.
Sheets was back in the lineup after missing most of the last three games with a knee injury, and his presence helped restore an offence that had snoozed its way through much of the four game losing streak.
Sheets ran the ball for 80 yards on 14 carries and Durant feels having him in the backfield certainly gave his team an advantage.
“It’s so good to have him back because it gave us some balance,” Durant said.
“That’s what we were lacking the past couple of weeks. I threw the ball nearly 150 times over the last three weeks and that gave defences an advantage. When they know you are going to throw, they pin their ears back and they come after me. When you have balance, its easier to read defences and it allows the o-line to play their game as well.”
Chamblin was also breathing a sigh of relief at game’s end knowing his team had finally gotten back in the win column. He says it was great getting back to the football this team had played in the first half of the season. He was happy with many aspects of the game, but perhaps it was the play of both the offensive and defensive line that pleased him the most.
“I told the d-line before the game that I wanted to see the quarterback face a lot of pressure. I told them if they were going to lose the game the quarterback had better be on his back," Chamblin told 620 CKRM’s Carm Carteri after the game.
“As for the o-line, we are getting healthier and we are gelling again. They‘re learning how to play together again.”
While the offence got back on track, the defence came through with another stellar effort as they held the Lions to just one touchdown. Defensive lineman Ricky Foley was one of many players who had a big night. He says his team was really fired up for this one.
“We were pumped up for this one. It was the best vibe in the locker-room that we’ve seen this year.” Foley said. “I don’t know if it was the short week this week or what it was, but the guys just came out with so much fire and it showed.”
Foley knows what its like to have season-defining victories having been on the Toronto team that won the Grey Cup last season. Foley was one of many who recognized that an Argonauts win at Mosaic Stadium last season was the one that turned their season around.
He thinks what happened on the BC Place turf may be one of those things people look at if his team is fortunate enough to hoist the Cup at season’s end.
“This might be one of those season-defining victories," Foley admitted. “We came out and got a big road win in a tough environment. It’s a road trip where we can bond a little bit and spend some time together. We saw that special vibe tonight and I think we can carry that through.”
The win pulls the Riders into a tie with the Lions for 2nd place in the West and ties the season series at one. It sets up what basically amounts to a playoff game October 19th when the Lions return to Mosaic for the 3rd and final contest between the two in the regular season.
However, before the team starts concentrating on that game, they have a home date against the Edmonton Eskimos to focus on. That game will go October 12 in a 2:30 start.