The Roughriders credit 'Big Play Chain' for victory
Saskatchewan beats Ottawa 40-18 for fifth straight win
Yes, it was the 'Big Play Chain' that spurred the Saskatchewan Roughriders onto victory Saturday night.
Receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux brought some gaudy bling into the locker room this week.
A heavy placard featuring a Riders logo and thick gold chain.
The intent, to be worn by any Roughrider who makes a big play.
Are the <a href="https://twitter.com/sskroughriders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sskroughriders</a> Fans & Those Across the <a href="https://twitter.com/CFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CFL</a> Ready for the THE BIG PLAY CHAIN⁉️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoycottAverage?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BoycottAverage</a>... <a href="https://t.co/C3OZFtJezu">pic.twitter.com/C3OZFtJezu</a>—@mannyshow84
The big play chain was worn by many Saturday night as it made its debut.
The coach actually gave it credit for the win.
"Hat's off to Manny." said Craig Dickenson following the 40-18 victory.
"He brought this chain idea that really I think bonded our team this week."
But we all know, Manny's chain is one game away from the garbage can.
The Riders were rolling long before it showed up.
In case you didn't realize, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are sitting in second spot in the CFL West at the midway point of the season.
That's a far cry from where most pre-season predictions had them placed.
I had my doubts. With an injury-prone quarterback and a rookie head coach, I was thinking fourth at best.
I questioned whether Zach Collaros would make it to the home opener, which was game three.
He didn't even make it past play three.
Enter Cody Fajardo and the team hasn't looked back.
Fajardo is now 6 and 2 as the Roughriders' starting quarterback.
But, except for a brilliant third quarter touchdown pass from Fajardo to Naaman Roosevelt, the victory was on the defense.
Three first quarter interceptions translated into 17 points and sent the Riders on their way to their fifth straight win.
But before we start planning the parade route lets put those victories into perspective.
Two over a very bad team from Vancouver, one over Hamilton playing without their number one quarterback, they caught a break with a weather shortened victory in Montreal, and then Saturday's blowout over the Redblacks who have been awful since they beat the Riders earlier in the season.
But a win is a win and they all count in the end so no apologies needed.
They have belief in the room
"It doesn't matter what the outside sources say, we know we have a lot of talent in this room." said running back William Powell.
"As long as we continue to play together and keep bringing energy we will be hard to stop."
Powell scored twice Saturday, his league leading 8th and 9th touchdowns of the season blowing away his previous career best years, and he still has half of the season to go.
The offensive line is keeping Cody Fajardo's uniform clean, and the first year starter is doing the rest.
He may not be Plaza of Honour material yet, but he's not making mistakes.
Fajardo hasn't been intercepted since July 20.
That was five games ago.
Ottawa's Dominque Davis was picked three times in the first fifteen minutes.
The Riders' likeable quarterback has the team sitting in a home playoff game position.
Not bad for a guy who spent the last few seasons holding a clipboard in Vancouver.
"Sounds great to me." said Fajardo after the game.
"We just got to keep it rolling, we're a hot team right now and I think we've got a fine line between being confident and understanding there's still room to improve."
But there will be no gimmes from here on as they face an extremely tough second half schedule.
The real test comes next week with the Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg.
Even without their number one quarterback, it will take more than a big play chain to beat them.