By: Rod Pedersen
Everything happens for a reason.
Do you believe that? I certainly do. And that's why I don't feel Friday's 30-26 Roughrider loss in Montreal was a bad thing. Did you see it? The Riders didn't seem themselves as they fell down 10-0 to the reigning Grey Cup champs before the game was five minutes old, and 24-10 at halftime.
Rider quarterback Darian Durant, playing with an infection in his intestines which has bothered him the past three weeks, threw for 445 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His Riders had a chance to rally for another comeback with a game-winning touchdown drive with a minute to go but ran out of time.
No matter. Perhaps Rider head coach Ken Miller said it best right after the game, just after his team's valiant second half comeback fell just short.
“I don’t know if it’s a character builder but it might be a team builder because the team has rallied up," Miller asserted. "We had some players who spoke at the end of the game. They are motivated and want to play these guys down the road one more time.”
Without question, the Riders know they've earned the respect of the Alouettes over their recent stretch of games.
``This is a game (Friday) where you look at it and say, 'How did it happen?''' Montreal coach Marc Trestman said. ``The reason why it happened is that there are different ways to get a win and our guys played really hard. Their guys did as well, and we were very fortunate to come up with a win.''
Darian Durant passed Kerry Joseph to move into 10th on the Roughriders all-time pass completions list with his 35 against the Als.
"Durant took a number of vicious hits, he was able to escape on a number of occasions and in both cases was able to pinpoint his passes when he had a chance to throw the ball,'' Trestman said. ``I think we saw something really special out of him tonight. He's proven he's a force to be reckoned with in this league.''
It was a heavyweight slugfest between the two best teams in the CFL and although the 5-1 Alouettes won this battle against the 4-2 Riders, they have not yet won the war. Miller alluded to it; these two teams seem to be on a collision course for the 2010 Grey Cup in November in Edmonton where the Riders hope to vanquish the 13th Man demon from 2009 once and for all.
It would be a tall order to go 3-0 against Marc Trestman's Alouettes in one season and if you look at the past three games between the two, it's been a Montreal win (Grey Cup), a Saskatchewan win (Canada Day) and now a Montreal win (last week). So now it's the Riders' turn, and perhaps it'll come in this year's Grey Cup.
Switching gears, the Roughriders host the B.C. Lions this week (Thursday) in the 2010 CFL Hall of Fame Game. We have to quickly move past the Montreal game and look ahead to an exciting week of festivities as we induct players Don Narcisse, Tracey Ham, Elfrid Payton and Bob Cameron into the CFHOF Saturday night in Saskatoon.
Watch the Riders' official website at www.riderville.com for ticket information and event schedules. It's the first time this event has ever been in Saskatchewan so let's make sure it's great!