November 22, 2010

Pedersen: Time to avenge the 13th man

Rod Pedersen

Alberta Armageddon is on.

Saskatchewan versus Montreal Part II in the CFL title game.

The Roughriders punched their ticket to the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton with a 20-16 upset victory over the Stampeders in Calgary in the 2010 CFL Western Division Final Sunday afternoon and now have the chance to right the wrong of the 2009 Grey Cup against Montreal. You all know what I’m talking about.

It didn’t start out well for the Green & White at McMahon Stadium in minus-26 degree temperatures Sunday. Henry Burris’ all-star laden Stampeders jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter before the Riders’ Darian Durant fired back-to-back second quarter touchdown passes to Cary Koch and Chris Getzlaf for a 14-11 halftime Rider lead.

A Wes Cates rushing major in the third quarter provided the winning points as all the Stamps could muster in the second half was a field goal and a pair of punt singles.

“Down by 11 is our comfort zone,” laughed Rider coach Ken Miller after the game. “We get down a bit, then come back. Really though, Darian started making completions and put together great drives. Our defence was lights-out all night. It was a great mindset of being mentally tough and being physically dominant.”

If you live by the sword and die by the sword, then the Stamps fell on their blade. Costly penalties by their brash players afforded the Riders key yards at opportune times. Calgary was quick to blame the officials for the loss in the aftermath of the game.

So the Riders get a chance at redemption, facing the Anthony Calvillo-led Alouettes in a winner-take-all showdown this Sunday.

“Certainly it’s an opportunity that the men are looking forward to and certainly I am too,” Miller forewarned.

The Riders winced whenever the 13th man comments came up all season long, but now even the players admit to seeing the opportunity for revenge before them.

“Obviously it was a goal of the whole team to get back and get another chance at the Grey Cup,” revealed Getzlaf. “It didn’t end the way we wanted but that’s in the past. We’ve been waiting all season to get to this point.”

The Riders wouldn’t be at this point at all if not for second year linebacker Jerrell Freeman who recovered a fumbled punt in Saskatchewan’s endzone with two minutes to go.

“We’re back, exactly where we want to be trying to avenge last year’s loss,” Freeman huffed. “We trust each other. We do our job and the offense does theirs and if we continue to do that, we’ll do alright.”

You’ve got to think the Riders stand a great chance at capturing the franchise’s fourth Grey Cup. Certainly they have the added motivation, but if this team is willing to put it all on the line in minus-26 degree conditions against the CFL’s top club, then a date with Montreal in zero degree temperatures should be just another day at the office.

We will know shortly.