What a difference a win makes!
The Saskatchewan Roughriders snapped a four-game losing streak in fine fashion, dumping the BC Lions 32-17 Friday night in Vancouver and it's got the club feeling a whole lot better about themselves as they begin a brand new week.
The win not only snapped the dreadful slide, but it instilled some much-needed confidence as the club plows down the homestretch and it also kept their dream of hosting a home playoff game in 2013 alive.
With four games to go, the Riders are two wins back of Calgary for first-place in the CFL West so finishing in top spot may be extremely difficult but second-place, and homefield in the Western Semifinal, is certainly within their grasp.
And make no mistake, the return of tailback Kory Sheets from a three-game absence due to a knee injury was the catalyst for the victory. Sheets finished the night with a 80 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns to ignite the temporarily stagnant Rider offense.
"Honestly I think me getting hurt was a good thing," Sheets admitted upon the team's return to Regina. "It allowed me to rest and get my legs back underneath me and that spells trouble for somebody!"
Rider coach Corey Chamblin agreed with Sheets' assessment although he said all 42 men on the roster fulfilled their obligations on Friday night.
"Kory is one of the cornerstones of this team," Chamblin said. "When Kory's not in there, of course you have to make changes. But it was definitely good to get him back."
It would be a stretch to suggest that Sheets's return allowed the Riders to dominate the line of scrimmage battle, but he just may have. The Riders won the sack battle 5-2 and one Vancouver reporter noted that the Lions "couldn't get near Durant" for most of the night.
I wasn't in the Rider locker room after the game but Chamblin said the team celebrated as if it had won the Grey Cup. Clearly there was an immense sense of relief to "Reverse the Curse" but believe it or not, there was one player who wasn't celebrating.
It was brought to my attention by a Vancouver broadcaster who popped his head in our broadcast booth as B.C. Place was emptying and said, "This Geroy thing is going to be a major distraction for you guys the rest of the way!"
I gave him a puzzled look and said, "What Geroy thing?"
Well, as it turns out, Rider slotback Geroy Simon left the playing field in a huff and refused all postgame interviews. The game was Simon's first return to Vancouver since the off-season trade which landed him in Regina. That attraction drew a season-high crowd of 37,312 and Simon was honoured with a special pregame video tribute.
However he wasn't a factor in the game, catching only a 13-yard hitch pass in the dying seconds which extended his consecutive-games-with-a-catch streak to 184. No one really knows what Simon was upset about because of his self-imposed silence, but some observers surmised he would have rather seen the streak end than to be thrown a token pass for the sake of the record.
The whole situation blew me away and left me shaking my head. But his team won the game! He's the Riders' highest-paid receiver at nearly $200,000 per year! What about T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More)??
The next morning Simon tweeted "Great team WIN last night. Was great to play in BC Place again" so perhaps he had the opportunity to sleep on it and things didn't look so bad the next morning. Or, as many have suggested, "someone spoke to him".
Let's hope so because the Roughriders don't need any more distractions the rest of the way. Lord knows they've had enough over the past month.
And when the Riders acquired Simon in January, I can't imagine this "ticking time bomb" is something they signed up for.