October 24, 2011

Pedersen: Small victory for struggling Riders

Rod Pedersen


Ladies and gentlemen that figure may not mean a lot to you, but in fact it’s a new Saskatchewan Roughriders record for the longest period of time between offensive touchdowns.

The Riders finally snapped the touchdown drought, which spanned nearly five games, at 6:30 of the second quarter of Friday’s 25-13 loss in Calgary. 

Quarterback Darian Durant figuratively threw the monkey off his back when he rushed for a four yard touchdown which temporarily gave his team the lead.  

It was the smallest of victories for a football club which fell to 4-12 and is in the midst of one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Now there are still two games left before the Riders will miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade, so there’s still a chance at a 6-12 record. That would save the 2011 Riders from sharing ugly space in the record books with past Rider teams such as 1959 (1-15), 1979 and 1980 (2-14) and 1999 (3-15).

And perhaps that’s why Rider coach Ken Miller has stubbornly dug in his heels and refused to flush this season down the toilet.  

He is reluctant to look at his young talent in garbage games at the end of the year. Miller will tell you – and there’s many who agree with him – that these remaining games are not akin to the preseason because those games don’t go into the record books. They don’t make history.

However no matter how this tragedy of a season turns out, no one will ever forget how it’s ending. The image of franchise player Darian Durant, playing with one broken foot and a sprained ankle on the other, being helped off the field in Calgary Friday night after being pulverized AGAIN, is tough to bear.

Although early reports stated Durant didn’t know where he was after taking a massive hit and was suffering from a concussion, Miller refuted that after the game.

“Darian is fine,” the coach asserted. “He’s talking normally, walking normally, feeling normally and is feeling good. I don’t know about a knock on his arm.  I’ll have to investigate that further.”

Upon the team’s return to Regina, Durant admitted that perhaps the best thing for him is to sit out the remaining games and not risk further injury.

Hallelujah! It is just this blogger’s opinion, but there seems to be no point trotting this generation’s Little General out there when he’s in such bad condition. If there’s no one behind him capable of playing, then that’s not his fault.

There are two games left until Rider Nation can gleefully turn on the examination light and dig into the autopsy. If there’s not enough talent, then it’s scouting’s fault. If there is enough talent then it’s the fault of coaching. What if, what if, what if.

Let’s just get it over already, so the healing can begin.