Even in defeat, Corey Chamblin was right.
When the Saskatchewan Roughriders returned for their first morning meeting after the bye week on August 5, their head coach told them if they suffer a slow start in their next game against Calgary - as they did in their prior game against Hamilton on the road before coming back to win - they would lose.
The coach was correct. In a first-place showdown in Week 7 Friday night in Calgary, Chamblin's Riders fell down 16-0 early in the second quarter and they never could come back. The fired-up Stampeders held off the Riders for a 42-27 victory before a sellout crowd at McMahon Stadium and pulled into a tie with Saskatchewan for top spot in the CFL West with 12 weeks to go.
The game was closer than the score indicated - the Riders out-gained Calgary in yards, 438 to 429 - but the outcome was a sobering shot of reality for the previously unbeaten green guys.
The hardly-believable dream of an undefeated season went up in smoke and when the smoke cleared, the Riders had to take a long look at themselves.
This wasn't the same bunch who played pretty much error-free football in five straight wins before the bye. On their second play of the game Friday night, star tailback Kory Sheets fumbled away the ball setting up the Stamps in scoring position. Poof! Just like that, the Riders' record-setting streak of five consecutive games without an offensive turnover went out the window.
And the penalties. Oh, the penalties! The Riders took 10 for 116 yards and it wasn't what we'd become accustomed to seeing so far in 2013.
Oh, and the sacks. Quarterback Darian Durant absorbed the most punishment he's endured all year, being viciously taken down on four occasions by the Stamps. Coming in, Saskatchewan had only allowed seven sacks all season, which was tops in the CFL.
"Penalties killed us," admitted Rider safety Tyron Brackenridge. "We beat ourselves. Calgary played hard and they're a good team but we didn't take the ball away on defense. We gave up big plays. That's not our defense."
Good teams, the really good ones, can overcome a sub-par performance and still win. However on this night the Riders were facing a worthy adversary, in some ways a mirror image of themselves. Perhaps the Riders aren't as good as we thought they were?
That remains to be seen. But with the bubble now burst, that first loss out of the way, the pressure that comes with mammoth expectations has subsided somewhat.
And now it's time to look ahead.
"This was not a championship game, it's not playoffs," Brackenridge advised. "It's not the end of the world. We still got 12 games left."
The team now heads into a favourable stretch with games against struggling teams over the next month. In order, they are Montreal, Edmonton and a back-to-back set with Winnipeg.
And don't forget, the Riders are still in first-place!
"If you'd have told me before the season we'd be 5-1 at this point I'd take it and be pretty happy about it," Rider President Jim Hopson reasoned on our radio postgame show. "But this was one we needed. It stings."
Of course it stings. All losses do, and now the season series between the Riders and Stampeders rests on a late-October meeting back in Calgary.
Will it come down to that? The Riders could conceivably be 9-1 if they get back to form and win the next four games in which they'll undoubtedly be favoured in each one. Calgary now heads into a perilous stretch with back-to-back road games against B.C. and Toronto, both teams with winning records.
And after Friday's result, it's clear the Calgary Stampeders are the biggest obstacle in the way of Saskatchewan's goal of finishing in first place and getting into the Grey Cup in their own stadium in November.
Rod Pedersen is the Voice of the Saskatchean Roughriders on 620 CKRM. You can check out his award-winning blog at www.rodpedersen.com. Follow Rod on Twitter @sportscage.