The BC Lions knew going in that Mosaic field is hostile territory, especially when you allow the home side to get a lead. The Lions had a sloppy and inefficient first half and dug themselves too big a hole, falling 27-21 to the Riders. Here is how I saw the fourth loss of the season, from the couch.
The Weston Dressler Show
I’m not sure how you game plan for the Riders and aren’t prepared for a heavy dose of Weston Dressler. The talented Rider receiver is going to make his plays, but it seemed at times he was a forgotten man by the Lions defence. Cauchy Muamba had a front row seat for the show and had a tough night but there were other miscues as well. Muamba is starting to be a target for opposing offences and the Lions may need to address that soon.
The play calling was very suspect at times in this game. The Riders had three starters missing from their defensive line, although with the pressure they got you wouldn’t have known. Despite that, the Lions rarely ran the ball and Andrew Harris didn’t even get a touch until 4:00 into the second quarter. Then with the game on the line after a successful onside kick, the Lions go deep twice with 1:18 left on the clock, failing on each attempt. The funny thing is Harris had 8 carries for 78 yards which says he maybe should have been a bigger focus in the game plan, especially with pressure Lulay was under. He has to be a bigger part of the offence, especially when you lose your two best receivers to injury.
Riders Offensive Line
While Lulay was under constant pressure in the first half, the Lions defensive front was for the most part held at bay. The Lions dressed one less defensive lineman (Mitchell) to get Solomon Elimimian into the lineup, so you have to wonder if that had an effect fatigue or continuity wise. I thought the Riders clearly won the battle in the trenches overall and when you do that you generally win football games.
Solomon Elimimian was credited with one tackle on the night. At times there looked to be a little confusion between himself and Bighill when they were on the field together. For his part Bighill had another solid game with 13 tackles. Some are wondering if the Lions should have upset the apple cart but Elimimian is a solid player, and hopefully as things progress the unit will get tighter. Overall there was sloppy tackling by the Lions as a defensive unit, and that is going to have to get better in a hurry with Jon Cornish coming to town.
Marco Iannuzzi and Kierrie Johnson
Both receivers stepped up when Simon (Hamstring) and Bruce (Concussion) went out. Johnson who led all Lions with 75 yards on the night made a key catch on 2nd and 25 while Iannuzzi had two TD’s on three catches. Paris Jackson also showed he can still contribute and had one called back on an iffy offensive pass interference call. If Bruce and Simon can’t go next week the Lions should have the depth to get by for a week or so with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore also available.
The Lions are likely hoping that Tim Brown will be ready to go next week after a shaky debut by Anthony Stewart. The rookie bobbled a couple of punts and didn’t show too much on the ones he caught. First game jitters sure, but the Lions can’t afford to risk turnovers on special teams down the stretch.
The Right Decision
Arland Bruce (@RUNAKORETH) tweeted after the game to thank the doctors of the BC Lions for following the proper procedures in regards to the concussion protocol. Reports during the game suggested Bruce wanted back in but he was shut down by the team. Earlier in the day Buck Pierce took a hit to the chin, left the game and returned, only to leave again. I’m not suggesting I know the situation in Winnipeg or that they did something wrong, but kudos to the Lions staff.
Really, for the first time this season the Lions are facing a little adversity. The offence is inconsistent and they may enter next week’s first place battle with the Stamps without their two top receivers. All of a sudden their comfortable lead atop the West division isn’t so comfortable. It will be interesting to see just how they respond next week against the surging Stampeders.