I thought I had witnessed every way possible for the Riders to lose a game over 42 years of covering the team. I have seen hundreds of losses but none where a pass on the last play of the game hit the crossbar.
Cody Fajardo said the crossbar is 80 per cent air and 10 per cent iron and he hit it. I asked if he ever hit the crossbar with a pass during a game. He answered by saying the quarterbacks sometimes play a game trying to hit the crossbar. He said as the ball hit the iron the stadium went silent.
Three plays before I thought the game was over and half a second later, miraculously restored when Farjardo’s pass went through the hands of a Winnipeg defensive back and was caught by Kyran Moore. I cannot recall the last time a play brought me to my feet in the pressbox but that play had me standing.
A play earlier I thought the Riders were going to lose was when Fajardo threw a perfect pass to an open Manny Arceneaux coming across the middle and Arceneaux never even looked for the pass. Fajardo said there was miscommunication between himself and Arceneaux. He said they usually hit that pass on the other side. He said he should have told Arceneaux if they had zone coverage he was throwing sooner. In his only comment on not practicing for two weeks he spoke of being somewhat rusty to start the game and not having communication on this play.
Two plays before the Mosaic Miracle, I thought the game was over when Fajardo held the ball too long and looked to have fumbled but the play was ruled an incompletion by the command centre. I had no idea what they were going to do on the play as they, earlier in the game, had not ruled Fajardo threw an illegal pass by releasing the ball past the line of scrimmage. Every angle I saw he was well beyond the line.
A couple of minutes earlier I thought the game was over when Fajardo was stopped on a third and goal from the one-yard line. He was stopped for a loss as he tried to go left rather than straight ahead or to his right. The play started badly as they had to rush to get it off before a timecount. All season Fajardo has flirted with or exceeded the 20 seconds. For the next season, he has to get to the line of scrimmage sooner. At the goalline he said the play was stopped as a Winnipeg lineman had submarined the Riders left tackle. It made no sense to go left as the Riders regular left tackle, Terran Vaughn, was out and Philip Blake was filling the spot on the line.
Two plays earlier I was thinking the Riders are going to lose this game when they tried to pass on the first down from the three-yard line. I cannot believe William Powell would ever have been stopped on three runs from inside the three-yard line.
A few minutes earlier I was thinking the Riders are going to lose this game when third string quarterback, Bryan Bennett, was tackled for a four yard loss on the second down with the ball on the Bomber’s one-yard line. I could not understand why he was in the shotgun. He said there was no option for him to move up to the line for the snap. It was called for the shotgun. On the play William Powell ran into his left shoulder as Bennett held the ball out to his right. Bennett spoke of a failure to execute. He started by saying he expected Powell to be on his right side. Then he said it was his fault for not opening up a bit more as he pivoted for the handoff. He spoke of needing another half a foot of opening up. Craig Dickenson said he had planned to go on third and goal if they were at the one but with the loss of yardage decided they had to go for the field goal.
After finding ways to win close games all season, the Riders in the final repeatedly found ways to lose the game. And Moore looked to be open on a crossing route on that final play.
My columns for this year will not end with the loss. I am going to Calgary for the Grey Cup. I had so hoped the Riders would join me there but destiny rode with the Bombers. I will be sending back some Grey Cup columns during the week, which will be online at humboldtjournal.ca.