Saskatchewan Roughriders Move Into First Place with Victory Over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Saskatchewan Roughriders
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As time runs down on the 2019 CFL regular season, so-to does the race for first in the CFL’s West Division. That’s what made this matchup between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers one of the most anticipated games of 2019.

The last time these two teams met, Winnipeg took it to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a convincing 35-10 victory. While that may not seem like a long time ago, a lot has changed since the Banjo Bowl. The Bombers blew a big lead to the upstart Montreal Alouettes before allowing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to hand them their first home loss of 2019. The Riders, on the other hand, were winners of two straight heading into this matchup. Here’s what stood out from tonight’s game.

L.J. McCray

We’ll get to his highlight reel interception in a moment. But the one thing that really stood out in McCray’s game was his ability to sniff out the Bombers short passing game. The same could be said for the rest of the Riders’ defence. On the Bombers fourth drive, McCray beautifully read the Bombers hitch route and made the immediate tackle for loss. Winnipeg went back to that play again on their fifth drive this time targetting Janarion Grant and produced a similar result.

McCray then sealed the game with a magnificent interception with under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter as Winnipeg was pressing to tie the game with a touchdown and likely subsequent two-point conversion.

Winnipeg’s Offensive Struggles

This is nothing new or groundbreaking, however, Winnipeg’s offensive struggles continued into this pivotal matchup in Saskatchewan. The responsibility of such falling squarely onto quarterback, Chris Streveler’s shoulders. After their fifth drive in the second quarter, the Bombers offence had generated 48 net yards resulting in five punts. Streveler finished 26/40 with no touchdowns, two interceptions and 254 yards passing. Generous stats considering the Riders dropped three very interceptable passes in this game as well.

Time is running out if Winnipeg is to explore alternative options at the quarterback position. Harris had some big carries at certain points throughout the game but with the passing game struggling, 11 carries aren’t enough for a player of his calibre.

Saskatchewan Offence Grinds Away

Saskatchewan’s offence was not fairing much better throughout this contest. Two key passes including one for a touchdown were called back due to illegal blocks downfield. Surely something the Riders will want to clean up as each game becomes more important. Another concerning sign was Saskatchewan’s inability to capitalize on the turnovers the defence was creating.

Winnipeg turned over the ball two times in three drives and the Riders had to punt on each occasion. However, in classic Fajardo fashion, he came through when the Riders needed him the most, to put the game away. That came on a 61-yard touchdown pass to 1,000 receiver, Shaq Evans. The very killer instinct the Riders lacked in the two drives following Bombers’ turnovers came to fruition at the end of the game.

What It All Means

The Riders now sit at 10-4 with the season series in hand against the now 9-6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Montreal Alouettes also came to Saskatchewan’s aid with a tightly contested 21-17 victory over the Calgary Stampeders (9-5). By no means do the Riders have first place locked up, in fact, their greatest test is in less than a week when they travel to McMahon Stadium to take on a team that defeated them by 27 points back in July. Needless to say, the battle for supremacy in the Western Division still hangs in the balance and while the Saskatchewan Roughriders helped their case against Winnipeg, there is still plenty of work to be done.

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