Analysis

Riders offence serves up turkey as defence carves up win

Riders offence serves up turkey as defence carves up win. Willie Jefferson's late fourth quarter pick six has Riders on verge of home playoff game

Willie Jefferson's late fourth quarter pick six has Riders on verge of home playoff game

The Riders' defence made sure Mike Reilly's Thanksgiving weekend was one to forget sacking the Eskimos' quarterback five times en route to a 19-12 victory. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

You never say you're sorry for a victory and Chris Jones wasn't about to on Monday afternoon, moments after his Saskatchewan Roughriders came from behind to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos 19-12.

"You don't ever apologize for winning a football game especially when you're beating a guy, I know what kind of competitor he is," Jones said. 

Jones' man crush on Eskimos' quarterback Mike Reilly is understandable considering the two shared a Grey Cup Championship together.

Jones, who doubles as the Riders' defensive coordinator, watched as his unit sacked Reilly five times and picked him off three times.

Riders' fans gave special thanks for Willie Jefferson.

It was his late fourth quarter interception return which led Saskatchewan to the victory.

Riders' defensive ends Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson share a good time discussing the victory over the Eskimos. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Jefferson's pick six will officially go down as a 49-yard-return. It was closer to 80 yards and another ten seconds or so off the clock by the time Jefferson's time-wasting-antics finally crossed the goal line.

It came much to the delight of the 31,000 plus in attendance at Mosaic Stadium.

"Our mindset as a defence is takeovers," said Jefferson of his second INT TD of the season.

"We know we are one of the most athletic defences in the league, when we get our hands on the ball we want to finish the plays and finishing the play means touchdowns, touchdowns is what we want."

CFL's Thanksgiving double header saw Calgary beat Montreal 12-6 and Saskatchewan top Edmonton 19-12. 1:51

Touchdowns are desired by the offence too, but the endzone for that unit continues to be a just a rumour.

On Thanksgiving Monday, the Riders' offence looked like it was suffering from a tryptophan hangover.

Zach Collaros and the Riders' offence had a tough time moving the ball against the Eskimos' defence. Once again, there were zero offensive touchdowns. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

There have been only eleven passing touchdowns by the Riders' offence in 2018 after being blanked again in week fifteen.

"Offensively, we stubbed our toe with the penalties, we had a lot of drops, we didn't run the ball effectively." said Jones.

They weren't bad, but they should have been a little further along than they were.

"I don't feel like we had a poor night," said Zach Collaros. 

The Riders' quarterback finished the afternoon 25/38 for 259 yards and one ill-timed fourth-quarter interception which should have been the death blow for the Riders, if not for Jefferson.

"There's a lot of things we left out there, I do feel like we're getting better." 

Except, they leave it up to Brett Lauther too often.

The Riders field goal kicker suffered a rare off-day missing two of his six attempts.

Describing a four-for-six-day as an 'off-day' are the standards Lauther is being held to.

The offence, however, is not held to any standards, which normally doesn't bode well for any kind of playoff success.

Thanks mostly to defensive and special teams heroics, the Riders are on the verge of their first home playoff game in five years.

But can you imagine what this team is capable of if all three phases, offence, defence and special teams, come together in the same game?

One gets the feeling, Chris Jones is thinking the same thing, that something special is brewing.

That is a rare post-game smile from Riders' head coach Chris Jones after Monday's win. "It's a testament to what kind of team we are." (Glenn Reid/CBC)

"For us to come out and win the football game the way we did it's a testament to what kind of team we are, not just a bunch of individuals, not just one side of the football, there are three phases in there, a bunch of real good football coaches and it's a good unit."

It seems to me I've heard something like that before. 

Come to think of it, it was in 2013, 2007, and 1989.

I'm sorry, but I don't remember 1966.