The 13th Man with Jonathan Hamelin, Sports Editor
These days, people who have a heart condition should avoid watching Saskatchewan Roughriders games.
Whether they fall behind early in the game, or are caught in an old-fashioned shootout, the Green and White seem to keep the outcome of the game up in the air until the dying moments. For some, watching Rider games has almost become a stressful affair.
I, on the other hand, am fucking loving every minute of it.
For Saskatchewan, this trend really started when Darian Durant became the permanent starting quarterback of the Riders in 2009. Durant, obviously wanting to cement his legacy early in his career, felt it appropriate to be involved in as many epic games as he could.
Saskatchewan was involved in a number of games in 2009 that came down to the wire. Eight of their games were decided by five points or less. In Week 5, when the Riders battled the Calgary Stampeders on the road, Durant threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Chris Getzlaf late in the game to give the Riders a 24-23 victory.
In Week 17, the British Columbia Lions came into town. The game went into overtime tied 30-30. Saskatchewan scored a field goal on the first possession and then Riders safety James Patrick intercepted Casey Printers in the end zone to win the game for the Green and White. To even force the game into overtime, Saskatchewan had to fight back from an eight-point deficit with little time left in the game.
The close games have continued this season. In Week 1, Saskatchewan defeated the Montreal Alouettes 54-51 in double overtime at Mosaic Stadium. This game is being called one of the greatest regular season games of all time. In the game, the Riders were trailing 33-12. Durant and the offence preceded to destroy Montreal’s defence and earned the dramatic victory.
In Week 12, Saskatchewan upended the heavily favoured Stampeders 43-37 in overtime. The Riders scored a touchdown on the first possession but failed to score the two-point convert. Calgary had a chance to score on the three-yard line, but Stamps quarterback Henry Burris threw an incomplete pass on the third down to end the game.
Last week, in the latest close game, the Riders earned a 32-25 road victory over the Tiger-Cats, fighting back from a 14-0 game.
Some people seem to have a problem when it comes these close games. The Riders, they feel, should be wrapping the game up sooner. But a win is a win. If I am going to watch the Riders win a game, I would rather it be an exciting game then a blowout.
I have attended many of these games and there you always feel special being a part of it. The entire crowd is energetic and stands up for most of the game. You have to remain focused on the game because you are waiting for that big play. When the Riders win these types of games, you get the kind of high I can only assume drugs would produce. Random strangers hug each other and everyone cheers as they pile out of the stadium.
And, when it comes down to it, these are the games I remember. Honestly, I didn’t really remember that we crushed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 55-10 in the Banjo Bowl last year, or smoked Edmonton 55-9 in 2008.
I do, on the other hand, remember the close games. I remember watching Omar Morgan block a kick against Edmonton a couple of years ago at to win the game, Kerry Joseph running the long distance to end zone to beat the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic, Getzlaf catching the pass to win the game, the epic double overtime game this year between Saskatchewan and Montreal.
Coaches may not like this, but I am all for a game that is completely dominated by offence. Sitting through a three-hour football game is not always easy. When the game is fast paced, it makes it that much easier.
So Riders, I hope you continue to win games.
However, could you keep it close?