Yesterday was a great day until 10:00 pm.
The day started off well. It was sunny and bright, crisp and cool – a beautiful fall day. I looked out of my bedroom window and saw the ocean, some sailboats on the water, and a few fluffy white clouds hanging on the mountain tops. I went to church and then hung out the rest of the afternoon, waiting for my friend Melanie to arrive. Melanie, Heather and I went out for supper and then we left for the football game. I met some people from Regina while in line at Will Call to retrieve my tickets. Our seats were unfortunately under the screen, but we were near Rider fans. Granted they were drunk, middle-aged male Rider fans without their wives who bought food for us, and would have bought us drinks if we had wanted. And one of them went on this rant of how BC people are lazy and don’t work, and Saskatchewan people are actually the bosses of most BC people and on and on and on. And then it began…
The football game. That blasted football game.
The game didn’t start off on a good note. A kickoff returned for a touchdown. I’m sure all of the blood drained from my face, and my jaw stayed unhinged for a good five minutes after the play. I was pretty angry – and scared. Scared that this was going to turn into an all-out romp. But my fears were averted until the third quarter.
I hate the Lions. I hate Casey Printers. I hate Dave Dickenson. I hate Spurgeon Wynn. I hate Geroy Simon, Mark Washington, Barrin Simpson, Jason Clermont (that boy should be a RIDER!!!!), Frank Cutolo, Wally Buono and Chris Brazzell. And I hate how the Lions CANNOT drive the ball. They rely on the big play – and it works most of the time. AAAAARGH!!!! And then the fumble returned for touchdown. Ouch. I was preparing myself for the sure defeat, and the wheels in my head were turning as I dissected the plays in my head, trying to defend the loss.
But then the Riders offered me hope.
A drive that resulted in a Chris Szarka TD. And then Reggie Hunt blitzing and decking Casey Printers to force a fumble and Daved Benefield rumbling (literally rumbling – I was 20 feet away – it wasn’t pretty) for another TD. And then Matt Dominguez. I was sitting behind the right end zone tonight! An amazing 50-yard run. I almost peed my pants I was so excited!!!! I couldn’t believe what was happening! This was more than hope! This was a sure-fire win!
But then I uttered these immortal words: “There’s 59 seconds left. They’ll screw it up yet.”
And screw it up they did. You can blame the timekeepers’ bench. You can blame the referee for the face-masking call (which I didn’t see – I was at the other end zone). But you CANNOT let a team drive the ball like the Lions did with under a minute to go. And when you double-team Geroy Simon, you CANNOT let him catch the ball. Those were ill-timed jumps by the receivers. And pandemonium broke loose in BC Place. People were really excited for the first time that game. And scuffles broke out in the stands and had been for the last minute of the game. And Rider fans (there were many) were shocked, stunned and disappointed. We were sure we had broken the 16 year, lack of a home playoff game curse. But like the Red Sox of years of old, it was not meant to be.
I walked out of the stadium in a silent huff after a kid of about 8 years of age came up to our little pocket of Rider fans and made fun of us. I couldn’t watch the point after. It was the first time I had left a football game without watching it in its entirety.
How could such an incredible comeback be turned into such an incredible defeat?
I wish I knew. I hope the Riders know. If they don’t, it’ll be mighty hard to go into Commonwealth Stadium next weekend and shut down the Eskimos. The Riders are taking the hard way here, as per usual. But I hope they can turn their disappointment into anger and revenge and end up back here again in two weeks. If not, we’ll know where their season ended – 120 yards from where I was sitting. Watching. And waiting.