As long as I live, I'll never figure out Rider fans. At least, a very large portion of them.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders improved to a CFL-best 6-1 on Saturday afternoon with a last-second 24-21 victory over the Montreal Alouettes before a sold out crowd of 40,637 at Mosaic Stadium. Kicker Chris Milo hit a game-winning 34-yard field goal with no time left before the third-highest attended regular season game in Roughrider history.
All should be good, right?
Had the Riders lost the game, and to be honest it really looked like they would when the team went down 21-14 with less than two minutes remaining, I was planning to head straight home afterwards to avoid the wrath of the Rider Nation on the streets of the Queen City.
However, since the football gods smiled on the Green & White and afforded them the comeback victory, I thought I'd venture out to a local watering hole to join the celebrations.
However the smoke had barely cleared from the postgame fireworks when the barrage of negativity started flowing in. "That was the worst football game I've ever seen," one local TV reporter said in the parking lot outside the stadium.
I suppose I could give him that. It was an unexpectedly low-scoring contest in which the Riders held a narrow 8-7 lead at the halftime break. The game won't be shown on ESPN Classics anytime soon, and I'll admit I tried to watch the game a second time on Sunday evening but it was just too painful. At best, it was a cure for insomnia.
However things certainly heated up in the second half and the game was tied 11-11 going into the fourth quarter. And it was a war in the trenches on a steamy August afternoon with stars from both teams leaving the game with injury. For Montreal it was quarterback Anthony Calvillo and for the Riders it was wide receiver Rob Bagg. At press time, the severity of their injuries wasn't known.
The Riders were 12-point favourites heading into the game but the proud Alouettes, and back-up quarterback Josh Neiswander, gave the Green Guys all they could handle in the latest chapter of their simmering rivalry which goes back to two Montreal wins in the 2009 and 2010 Grey Cups.
It turned out to be a thriller, in a case of "last possession wins". The game may have been sloppy but the Riders proved to be the team who made the fewest mistakes and scrapped back to get the victory. Quarterback Darian Durant threw a 65-yard touchdown strike to Taj Smith to tie the game in the dying moments and then on the last-minute drive, Durant got his team into position for the game-winning field goal.
Afterwards, in the watering hole, fans were shaking their heads over-and-over at returner Jock Sanders' two fumbles, and another from Durant, which looked at times like they may cost the team the game.
Heck, they shouldn't have won. Saskatchewan lost the turnover battle (4-3) as well as time-of-possession but it's a 60-minute game and the Riders did just enough to be the better team on that Saturday afternoon.
"Against Calgary or BC, they would have gotten slaughtered," huffed one fan afterwards while another chirped, "They never would have won if Calvillo had stayed in the game."
I just smiled and nodded. Earlier in the season one fan complained that the games weren't that entertaining because the Riders were blowing teams out week after week. Are you kidding me?
Actually I think I've figured it out. It appears the Rider Nation would prefer if their team played error-free, perfect football but kept the games close enough so that they could win it in the end like a Hollywood movie script.
However, that's just not going to happen. Perhaps Chris Milo put it best after the game.
"Huge thank you to all the 40,000+ at Mosaic today!" Milo wrote on Twitter. "Place was rockin'! Thank you for your endless support! Wasn't pretty but a win is a win!"
Indeed it is. And 6-1 looks pretty good to me.
(For daily Rider news follow Rod on Twitter at @sportscage)