Rider Insider

No one is complaining today.

Sunday's 35-32 double-overtime win for the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Ottawa RedBlacks at Mosaic Stadium had it all.

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A sellout crowd? Check.

Amazing fall weather? Check.

A lot of points? Check.

A wild Rider comeback? Check.

Big plays? Check. And then some.

On the annual Plaza of Honor weekend, with this year's inductees being Rider greats Chris Szarka and Reggie Hunt, the Green & White held up their end of the bargain by thrice eliminating 12-point deficits to come back and defeat the expansion RedBlacks to improve to 9-3 and temporarily take sole possession of second-place in the West.

You say the RedBlacks were 1-9 coming into the game and shouldn't have put that big of a scare into Saskatchewan? Hogwash. For an expansion team they've been in a remarkably large number of their games and everyone knew they'd give the Riders all they could handle. Especially coming off a bye.

And the Riders were starting Tino Sunseri at quarterback who struggled mightily, along with the entire team, in a 28-3 loss at Hamilton one week before.

However Weston Dressler and Tearrius George had other ideas. Dressler scored two touchdowns (one a 78-yard punt return and the other a 60-yard catch) to inject life into an otherwise dull early effort. And T. George unofficially had four sacks as the Rider defensive front was relentless. Tearrius even blew a kiss to Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris after his last takedown.

Dressler's touchdown made #1 on ESPN's Sportscentre Top 10 in America as the 5'7" sparkplug bowled over, juked, or spun off, five RedBlacks defenders on the way to the endzone.

"I've never really scored a touchdown like that before," Dressler explained on CKRM radio after the game. "Usually I try to make it so they can't even catch me. But I'll take it."

And so will the Rider Nation as this team continues to amaze. In this space the past few weeks we've noted the comments of Rider GM Brendan Taman who said this is a better "team" than last year's Grey Cup championship squad, and they don't have as many "egos" and "personalities".

They are honest and hard-working. Head coach Corey Chamblin said it over and over again after the game.

"That's a crazy one," Chamblin smiled. "But we regrouped and showed a lot of heart to win it."

It's not like they don't need a kick in the pants now and again though. The Riders slept-walked through the first half with six two-and-outs in their seven possessions and were down 22-10.

"I got after them pretty good at halftime," Chamblin admitted. "I told them this is our house and no one comes in and does the things Ottawa did. We bucked up and did it. We get paid to perform and if we want to be champs, we showed it this week. Fighting back is what it takes to win a championship."

And Chamblin clearly knows what it takes be a champion after leading the club to the Promised Land in 2013 and winning the Coach of the Year Award.

Last week I wrote that this is far from over, even with Tino Sunseri at quarterback. He may be Darian Durant's back-up but he showed incredible resolve in leading the team downfield, needing eight points to tie the game and reach overtime, and he did it in the final minute.

This team is picking up steam again, and Sunseri earned the trust of the locker room even if there were only a few doubters remaining. Now they go to Edmonton for a critical West Division match-up Friday evening. Why would we expect any different result with this group?

"The thing I'm proud of the most is the pride and heart they showed," Chamblin concluded. "That's a true sign of a winner."

© Copyright Carlyle Observer

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