Rider Insider

Many people are surprised at the positive nature of the comments and the upbeat feeling the Saskatchewan Roughriders displayed following Friday's 40-27 loss to the Stampeders in Calgary.

I mean, one would think the bells would be ringing like a five-alarm fire following the club's fifth-straight loss at, perhaps, the worst possible time of the season.

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But they're not and you're about to read why.

In another strange game in this incredibly strange 2014 season for Canada's Team, Rider quarterback Kerry Joseph threw for a whopping 322 yards, two touchdowns, but three costly fourth quarter interceptions in just his second start.

Yes, this game turned on a dime after three quarters when the Riders led by a surprising 25-17 margin over the CFL's best club. The Riders had won eight in a row when leading going into the fourth period but for some reason they became completely unravelled on this latle-October night in the foothills. Joseph was picked off on three occasions down the stretch while the Riders simultaneously began taking turns drawing penalties on offense, defense and special teams.

That's the part that stings. The Stampeders never took a penalty after halftime while the Riders were flagged on eight second half occasions. And they were deserved whether you want to believe it or not.

Is that disappointing and cause for concern? Yes. Was it ultimately fatal for the season? No. The view from the broadcast booth says if the Riders clean all these things up between now and semifinal time, they have a chance to get back to the dance.

"I thought we all looked good," Rider coach Corey Chamblin said in referring to his 9-8 team. "I was pleased with how we played early and believed through four quarters. We've been through some things the last number of weeks but I was pleased that we came to where we were as a team tonight.

"When you play against the CFL's best team, you have to be ready. We had some youth out there but they have to learn we have to be picture perfect against a team like Calgary."

And were the Riders ever young in this one! Veterans Brendon Labatte, Chris Best and Weston Dressler were all left at home along with leading rusher Anthony Allen. They were replaced on the roster by Dan Clark, Corey Watman, Ryan Smith and Keith Toston respectively. All of them are wet behind the ears, but performed admirably.

"The young guys get a chance to play and you have to learn from that sometimes," Chamblin continued. "A lot of things went well. All three phases played well early. The Stamps just woke up and flexed their muscles near the end. We had a chance to win, we didn't, but with a few additions we'll be back in the championship."

Clearly the most positive showing came from the offense where the 41-year old Joseph turned back the clock and had the club's first 300-yard passing game of the season. He sat back in the pocket and launched bombs that looked like they were being fired out of a cannon. Time after time. On occasion he rolled out as well which was something the Stampeders clearly weren't ready for.

It was a quantum leap from Joseph's first start the week before, in which he had an admirable 213 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Admit it - over the past two games Joseph has at least made you think it's possible he could lead the Riders back to the Grey Cup hasn't he?

But we still don't know if he'll even get the chance. Top pivot Darian Durant was placed on the 6-game injured list on Thursday which may have been a smokescreen designed to fool other teams into thinking he's done for the season. However in reality it was a bookkeeping decision that will save the club tens of thousands of dollars until Durant is activated again.

That's supposed to happen when the Riders reconvene after this week's bye and close out the regular season at home against the Edmonton Eskimos on November 8. Will he be ready by then? Right now nobody knows but him.

Quarterback controversy anyone?

(For daily Rider news follow Rod on Twitter at @sportscage)

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