When Air Canada got comfortable the Riders took off

The play came early in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game, the Saskatchewan Roughriders already trailing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 14-3. Quarterback Brandon Bridge had been inconsistent and, as Riders’ head coach Chris Jones is wont to do, replaced by back up David Watford on a couple of occasions.

But on first and 10 from the Saskatchewan 35-yard line, Bridge ran play action, calmly stood tall in the pocket and spotted Caleb Holley running across the middle of the field facing one-on-one coverage. The rangy quarterback let go a touch throw for a 37-yard gain. It setup a Riders field goal (which they missed) but more importantly, the completion allowed Bridge to settle in, find his rhythm and ultimately lead his team to victory

The Canadian signal caller came back the next drive on second and nine threw a seed to Shaq Evans in a tight window for 15 yards and a first down, then executed a slick shovel pass to Jordan Williams-Lambert for 17 yards and another field goal attempt (this one was good.) Watford, who had played played one series at the end of the first and another to start the second, stayed on the sidelines for the rest of the game except when running the short yardage QB sneaks.

“I actually stopped thinking about it after the second game, talking to a lot of veterans I went out there and took their advice,” Bridge said. “I went out there and tried to have fun on one play at a time as opposed to thinking that in two series I’m going to get pulled.”

Saskatchewan came out of the halftime break with Marcus Thigpen bursting up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown. Then Bridge led a four-play drive, including one rush by the athletic quarterback and three completions, the capper a well-executed play action, pump fake and spotted throw to Naaman Roosevelt in the end zone for 24 yards and a major. It was the first passing touchdown for Bridge in 2018 and it put the Riders in front for the first time in the game.

“Definitely after the second drive in the second half, we got that shot play out to Naaman. After that, I felt like I was in my groove and I started to feel it,” said Bridge, who completed 17-of-22 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown on the night.

Bridge’s improved play allowed Jones to stop the switching QBs and allow his starter to run the show.

“He was having success on first and 10 with what we were calling so when something is going well – just like last year when K.G. would play well you wouldn’t see Brandon Bridge,” head coach Chris Jones said.

There were other factors, of course, Christion Jones found a lane and sped through it for a 61-yard punt return touchdown, the diminutive playmaker’s first touchdown return in 2018. Jones was a major factor in Saskatchewan starting in many favourable field position situations.

And the Riders defence smothered Ticats targets as Jones brought the heat on Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli for much of the game: there were many snaps where the Ticats quarterback was moved off his spot in the pocket due to the pressure and different looks Jones schemed. Willie Jefferson and Charleston Hughes wreaked havoc and paired with blitzers kept Masoli uncomfortable.

In the defensive backfield, Jones stayed with the match ups from the first game between the two teams with Duron Carter locked on Terrence Toliver and Ed Gainey staying with Brandon Banks. It was effective with Banks registering three catches for 25 yards and Toliver three grabs for 23 yards. Coverage looks varied with Tobi Antigha, Cameron Judge, Sam Eguavoen among several players who rolled back as safeties.

It all came together when Bridge steadied and got on course. The Riders final destination when sticking with one quarterback: a convincing road victory.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
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Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (842 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

104 Comments on When Air Canada got comfortable the Riders took off

  1. Evil Empire // July 20, 2018 at 10:05 am //

    LMAO…Air Canada.

    I’m surprised the inbreeders aren’t calling him doubles as well. Have you ever heard lamer nicknames than Rider Nation bestows upon their players ? I mean it’s beyond lame. And no man would actually spout that crap in public.

    I ask you…

    Does “ Doubles “ not sound exactly like the ridiculously feminine frou frou shit that the English press dubs members of the Royal Family with ?

    Damn straight.

    • Bo Levi is a bust // July 20, 2018 at 10:14 am //

      hey EE, it is the media who named him Air Canada, not the Rider fans. He was called that way before he even came to Riderville. What a doufus you are, almost as bad as Stampy from dumpville. It must be the Alberta ignorance, thats the only way I can explain the nonsense of the two of you. heee heee

      • The name Air Canada was given to him by ROD BLACK.
        He has 3 bad games and it’s not mentioned again. He plays one good game and it’s “Air Canada” again.
        If I was the airline I would put a stop to it.
        Why not West Jet?
        Or how about calling BLM – “US Air”

        • No,it wasn’t given to him by Rod Black. It was his nickname at South Alabama and it was created by his teammates, not the media.

          The rest of your post is, no surprise, pure nonsense.

        • Bo Levi is a bust // July 20, 2018 at 1:37 pm //

          how about calling BoLevi the Choker…..because that is what he is.

        • MR. Green // July 20, 2018 at 5:12 pm //

          Air Canada was given to him by his teammates originally in College. This empire guy cries about trolls. I never go on opposition team stories and trash the team and players like he just did.
          It’s sad, Evil cried about trolls yesterday and he starts this article off. Hypocrite 1.0

        • Riders4Last // July 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm //

          No it’s just that REAL teams in the rest of the CFL don’t give players names but I guess in sliderville there is nothing else to do in Saskatchewan ,Air Canada is not nearly as funny as “Canada’s team” as their self proclaimed name that their play by play guy calls them ,now that is funny .Canada’s team can’t only have 4 cups and a perennial bottom feeder

          • WilsonR // July 23, 2018 at 7:41 pm //

            So Odell Willis wasn’t the “Mayor of Swaggerville”? And Mike Reilly isn’t referred to as “Iron Mike”?
            Gizmo Williams never played? Pinball Clemens doesn’t work for the Argos?

            Nicknames are part of football. You probably don’t know this because no one ever gave you a nickname. You had to choose your own. Sad story.

        • How about calling BLM “Delta” as every time he chokes in the Grey Cup game his stamps are “Delta” blow time and time again

        • brian johnson // July 20, 2018 at 11:42 pm //

          Well said, average at very best.
          But defense played every well.

          • WilsonR // July 23, 2018 at 7:41 pm //

            Currently above average, if you understand math. Not saying you do, just setting the parameters.

      • lol the media??
        You mean Rod Pedersen???

    • Paul Bomber // July 20, 2018 at 10:43 am //

      Good lord!
      At some point, you’re just going to burst into flames from hate! Don’t bother replying to this EE… you’re in the same category as area-stupid…. skipping your comments going forward!

    • Besides arrogant, you’re absolutely ignorant. Is this caused by your jealousy of not being a part of an organization like Saskatchewan where fans “actually” get behind their team? I know, though, in Deadmenton, your city has the recognition of having some of the finest fairweather fans in the country. Where the announcer has to beller out to fans in embarrassment because Rider fans are louder than the hometown Eskimos. Yet, I can only wonder what it’s like walking down to a game in Deadmenton questioning whether the stadium will be half-empty, or worse yet, when Hamilton literally lays a beating on the Eskimos and only Tiger-Cat fans remain. Enjoy the bi-weekend.

      • How about the ALS laying a beating on the lowly sliders right in front of slidernation,ALS end their 13 game losing streak to the lowly sliders,and the only reason you had close to a sell out this year was of the dedication game against the ALS and you still couldn’t sell it out as there were open seats how pathetic.The sliders fans only support a when the team is winning or a special occasion,the sliders are one of the ONLY teams in the league that has needed a telethon to sell tickets to save their lowly franchise back in the 80’s.There is always excuses oh it’s to cold,oh it’s to rainy,oh it’s a Thursday night game ,when you get a real team with real fans than you can speak

        • So what’s your point, Sam??? We still have just over 1,000,000 people in the ENTIRE province and every game, if not a sellout, is nearly a sellout. What??? Half-empty in Deadmenton for a city of over 1,000,000 including the surrounding area. What is your point??? Please inform.

          And what??? Your team lost to Toronto and Hamilton. We’re 3-0 against those eastern teams. That makes our team a helluva lot better than your team. I guess it’s your turn next to lose to the lowly Alouettes. You maybe should’ve kept quiet while you’re ahead.

          • Your lowly sliders lost to ALS and absolutely CRUSHED by Ottawa lol lol sliders continue to be the laughing stock of the league along with their loud mouth fans,enjoy fighting it out for last place AGAIN with BC than again BC has a QB and the sliders have a bunch of back ups lol lol lol ,keep dreaming and playing your banjo , because that’s all your sliders can do is dream

          • Tee, heh, tee, heh, thanks a lot, Sam!!! You really funny with your simple jokes. Come to think of it, Sam, you’re one to speak about “loud-mouths”. But I do agree, Rider Nation cheers a lot louder than those fair-weather fans from northern Alberta. And that’s what makes it so exciting, Sam. You know you’re at a “real” game when you trek all the way down to New Mosaic stadium. But, you know what the fans in your outpost need, Sam? A new voice as a stadium announcer would be a real treat because it simply just doesn’t happen in Deadmenton. And as far as the Eskimos are concerned, funny your team can’t beat Hamilton and barely split a series with Toronto, yet the Riders “beat” both teams three times already. How does last place sound for your team, Sam? Because that’s where the Eskimos are heading, tee, heh, tee, heh. Enjoy the season, buddy, and lots of laughs, eh.

        • maelfin // July 20, 2018 at 8:31 pm //

          Sam, you should do a little research before mouthing off. In the last 10 years, the Riders have been third in attendance 4 times (2008-2011), second 3 times (2012, 2014 & 2015) and led the league 3 times (2013, 2016 & 2017.) As far as only supporting the team when they’re winning, in 2015 they were 3-15 and in 2016 they were 5-13. But sure, go back 30 years to support your lame argument. And as for the telethon at least we didn’t take a bailout from the league like some other teams have done.

        • Get a life. Why do you bother trolling on articles about the Riders? Because you’re a pathetic loser…

      • brian johnson // July 20, 2018 at 11:46 pm //

        Thanks Nice But loud has nothing to do winning
        Edmonton does very well. Sask wishes.
        But Cheers

    • EE antidote // July 21, 2018 at 11:35 am //

      Funny because Brandon Bridge’s Twitter handle is @Air_Canada_7
      In future it’s best if you just keep you mouth shut and appear a fool, than open it & remove all doubt

    • What an immature comment EE. Stop crying about the Riders and worry about your own sorry team. Man, I had you pegged wrong!!!

    • I thought I had seen incoherent postings on this site before…but this one probably tops them all! What substance(s) did you take before you attempted to express yourself here?
      Oh, and by the way, the “Air Canada” nickname was a creation of the print media…but of course, that possibility would never cross your mind, even if you could put together a rational post.

  2. BC Rider fan // July 20, 2018 at 10:06 am //

    What’s lame in 2018 is calling someone “inbreeders”. Classless and lame.

  3. What’s an inbreeder ?

  4. Good article, and in the absence of any real football writers for the Riders on this site it’s nice to have some articles like this.

    “I actually stopped thinking about it after the second game, talking to a lot of veterans I went out there and took their advice,” Bridge said. “I went out there and tried to have fun on one play at a time as opposed to thinking that in two series I’m going to get pulled.”
    -I wonder if this was the point of Jones rotating the QBs the way he was? Trying to get Bridge to focus on just the next play and forget about everything else.

    That catch by Holley was huge. It’s funny how one play can seemingly make that big a difference.

    • Puck Hog // July 20, 2018 at 10:54 am //

      Good on you, Dunkster, for predicting a Rider victory. Good points in your article except where you say, “the Riders final destination when sticking with one quarterback: a convincing road victory”; I would say that Jones sticking with one qb had less to do with the Qb playing well than the QB playing well caused Jones to stick with one qb.

    • The one big play was probably the Ticat fake on-side kick. A regular punt and they could’ve possibly got field position and kept the Riders in their own end.
      It was all down hill from there for the Ticats

    • true green // July 21, 2018 at 1:13 am //

      Thiggy should have caught that opening play against Montreal… we should have won that game and been 4-1.

  5. This victory had nothing to do with Bridge. This was all about the D.

    • This game was all about the D, but we needed some points too.

      • Think the O’s contribution finally gave our D a bit of a rest for the first times in a few games.

        That said – this one is behind us, and now the focus must shift to the next game. Any word on Moncriefs injury ?

    • The D can’t, by themselves, score 3 TDs, which was needed for this win. When a QB is 17/23, doesn’t give up picks, and moves the ball, he has EVERYTHING TO DO with the victory.

    • All about the D yes and the Ticats lame attempt at a fake on-side kick which gave the Riders instant field position.
      That play had nothing to do with the Riders D but was the turning point in that game

    • Didn’t they score something like 25 unanswered points in the fourth quarter? I’d say Bridge would have a big hand in that.

  6. EE, you are so pathetic! Talk football instead of nonsense. Air Canada makes sense: Canadian QB playing for Canada’s team. (and, yes, they are Canada’s team…they lead the league in attendance…best draw at ALL CFL parks they have played in thus far, including their own)
    And doubles is also appropriate…as in double D…Darian Durant.
    Now that you have attended at least one class in Grade 3 English, so that you can understand a moniker, go back to LYAO…most people laugh with their mouths, which is only a few inches from their brains…all of which, in your case, by your own admission, is clustered together, on your back side, just below your waist!
    Both, the English lesson, and anatomy lesson are free!

  7. Saskhunter // July 20, 2018 at 10:39 am //

    213 yds rushing and an o-line that physically dominated and moved the line of scrimmage…the Offense had a GIANT role in this victory.

    Great job…lets see how we match up against the Stamps and Eskimoes.

  8. Stampeder Summer // July 20, 2018 at 10:48 am //

    Bridge is a third string q.b.on any other team. Stamps will demolish sliders in sliderville….as the universe intends it to be….lol…lol…lol…

    • Bo Levi is a bust // July 20, 2018 at 10:54 am //

      less than 20,000 fans per game at McMahon, that pretty much sums up the interest in the stamps. Your the only one in that whole city who cares about them, and the team has banned you for stalking them. Your creepy.

      • If there are less than 20k at Stamps game then this league is really in trouble. Add that to less than 20k in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto.
        Forget about the Halifax expansion they will never avarage above 20k

      • Stampeder Summer // July 20, 2018 at 11:24 am //

        Lol….we have the best fans in the league…..you are going to get smoked sooooo bad in your own hole of a stadium…..lol…lol…lol…

        • Si1ver Fox // July 20, 2018 at 11:50 am //

          Don’t you have a sister or cousin that you should be making out with? Or did Mom and Dad make them sleep upstairs again?

    • why don’t you run upstairs and see if mom has breakfast ready yet.. Let the adults talk.

    • Puck Hog // July 20, 2018 at 11:11 am //

      Bridge is a good qb. Likely not a qb that will win a Grey Cup, though. But then, neither can Calgary’s starter the last few years.
      And of course, with the likes of you, Jerry, if the Universe (you must mean higher power) was just, then the Stamps wouldn’t win a game, UNLESS it wanted to pump you up in the regular season so it could see you reduced to shambles during the playoffs, lol! Go Stamps, for an 18-0 regular season!

  9. Paul Bomber // July 20, 2018 at 10:57 am //

    Riders had a better game, Ham couldn’t do what they needed to, that’s that.
    I couldn’t help comparing the Cats performance to the Bombers last week though. Some stupid coaching decisions, untimely penalties and disappointing play from guys that are supposed to be better.
    Verdict this week on Jones? Evil Genius! Having the ability to swap QBs like a back or receiver could pay dividends down the stretch, not to mention Collaros (who I’m not sold on yet)

    • Great coaching by Chris Jones, lots of criticism but the guy knows what he’s doing.
      A genius? no just a great coach

  10. EE…I have had time to further reflect on your attempted demise. For you to LYAO could very well be fatal, as getting rid of your A may be a monumental task; it would be almost all of your anatomy….as only a complete A$$ would dis a young Canadian QB trying to become a starter in this league!

    • We can dis any player that can’t get the job done.
      If he’s not performing you take him out. I think Bridge has had more opportunities in the league than any other QB, even though he doesn’t count against the NI ratio.
      Any import QB that has played like Bridge over the last 3 years would be long gone

      • Paul Bomber // July 20, 2018 at 11:11 am //

        I’m not going to do the research, but I have my doubts about that.

      • gridiron guru // July 20, 2018 at 11:34 am //

        u are way off base there… look at his numbers- they dont lie

      • DEAD WRONG! A CANADIAN QB GETS LESS OF A CHANCE!

      • RicoBeBlue&Gold // July 20, 2018 at 5:37 pm //

        Jeff

        If you have followed the CFL for a good while (and many on here have) you know that statement of getting chances such as Bridge has received is not right. If teams would dump backups because they don’t perform to a certain level all the time we would call it “player do or die” not “player development”. This is a topic for another day but we would be hard pressed finding good backups never mind a player ready to challenge for starting positions. Everyone has to get experience somewhere, somehow at some point. JMHO

      • RicoBeBlue&Gold // July 20, 2018 at 5:51 pm //

        Just to add to my last point… Canadian QBs are a differ story all together for many reasons. Either it be coaching at the USports level compared to the US. Really can’t compete with the resources, compatition,blah blah. It’s just a whole other level of training, money and on and on. Topic for another day.

      • true green // July 21, 2018 at 1:16 am //

        jeff: have you heard of drew willy?

  11. Paul Bomber // July 20, 2018 at 11:06 am //

    Yeah, kinda thinking that was when Hamilton finally figured out nobody gifts games in the CFL. Hoping the Bombers watched that game to reinforce last week’s lessons: stupid + lazy rarely equals a win.

    • Paul Bomber // July 20, 2018 at 11:51 am //

      hmmm.. something went goofy w/my comment – meant as a response to Green’s comment about the failed on-side punt.

  12. Good job by the whole team. Offence defence and special teams. Good on you coach jones. You felt the players needed a tuneup and you gave it to them. Good job players for listening to the coach. One game at a time boys. Good job again. Go riders.

  13. You guys have to realize that these bankrupt Albertans have nothing to do these days except be on this site 24-7. The provinces only industry is in the tank and drying up quicker than Stormy Daniels after a nightly show.These rig piggers have no future ahead of them so they are just venting their frustrations on here, trying to bring down the the little engine that could that runs this nation. Go easy on them.

    • Stampeder Summer // July 20, 2018 at 11:26 am //

      Stamps…4-0 lol…lol…enough said….lol…lol…

      • 4 months 0 days Loan Oustanding…Loan Outstanding….Loan Outstanding Pay your debts deadbeat.

      • Si1ver Fox // July 20, 2018 at 11:53 am //

        4-0? I think that you meant 40. You know, the same amount of years it has been since you’ve touched a girl?

      • Bo Levi is a bust // July 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm //

        stamps 0 and 2 in last 2 grey cups plus one cup they won that was gifted by the refs a couple years ago. We most call that 0 and 3.

  14. Brandon Bridge received the “Air Canada” nickname from his university teammates down in the States.

  15. gridiron guru // July 20, 2018 at 11:38 am //

    brandon bridge should be the starter the rest vof the year in sask- as if the backup would ever be able to go 17/22 with no picks at this point in his cfl career???!!! bridge is the real deal…what i wanna know is what was johnny football thinking watching that game? 2 weeks in a row massoli gets stuffed – i would assume johnny is chomping at the bit… i didnt see that game last night but last week massoli was running for his life- i think johhny would do better at that as he is definately more athletic than massoli

  16. Bridge and Manziel are similar in playing style. I noticed the sidearm delivery is the same. The two guys know each other from the Manning QB camp.

  17. Rider Fan // July 20, 2018 at 11:42 am //

    Congratulations stamp summer they are 4 and 0. I hope the Riders live up to your high standards.

  18. RicoBeBlue&Gold // July 20, 2018 at 11:56 am //

    The Rider’s played a great game particularly in the second half. All three phases of the game came together. I thought Bridge looked good this time around and Thigpen had the legs of old. The O-line did a nice job even with Labbatt (Sorry if that’s spelt wrong) hurt. Playing hurt can’t be easy.

    Sorry if I’m repeating something others have said, skipping over some of the more colourful post (to not lower myself). They really need to use better boards. Leave it at that.

    Remember, don’t feed the bears.

    Off to a Rum Hut, somewhere…

    • Enjoy the rum Rico – cheers!

    • I echo the statements made by classy Rider fans, likewise, to classy Bomber fans. Too bad a few of the arrogant Alberta fans can’t get it, though, I know there are a few from each city that supports all teams in the league with classy statements.

  19. Scottsask // July 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm //

    Cheers Rico, have a great weekend! It’s nice to be able to communicate with other adults!

  20. Rumour had it that there STILL sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from Darrell Davis’ house – after he read the recap of course, because he didn’t watch the game – and Joel Gasson is packing his bags and heading back to Ontario.

  21. Scottsask // July 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm //

    Bwahahaha!!!

  22. I enjoyed the game and watching Brandon Bridge start having success… he’s good when he throws a quick release. Actually looking forward to seeing what he does next. Other QB’s put everything they have into throwing bombs, but Bridge just seems to flick it – and it goes super far. It’s scary how much arm strength he has.

    Was rooting for Mazoli, but their entire team seemed off. The fans are really coming back in Hamilton… they deserve a winning team.

    • At 6’5, 230 lbs, he’s about as big and strong as a lineman from 20 years ago. Imagine how good he’ll be with more experience.

  23. Copy Chris Jones. Platoon Masoli and Manziel. Guy having better game plays more.

  24. I can’t believe how many elementary school kids from sliderville who can actually print with a keyboard. WOW
    simple minds breeding success!!

  25. Wideout // July 20, 2018 at 1:57 pm //

    That’s 2 non football related posts in a row for you GREEN envy, LOSER. How you liking the color GREEN today boy?

  26. Jeff….i don’t know how much you know about football…but you may remember a guy by the name of Calvillo. Ring any bells? Do you know what he did the first 3 years in this league? Look it up. Yet he holds many career passing records. so, don’t be to quick to throw a guy under a bus…especially a Canadian, who, just because of his nationality, already won’t get a fair shot at QB. For that matter, you may know the name Nicolls… won’t tax your memory that much, even Masolli…none of these guys were instant successes at QB.

    • People like that can’t grasp the concept of logic. Their knee-jerk response to anything is the equivalent of flicking their lips with a finger and making funny noises.

  27. Air Canada?
    If he’s Air Canada, they have the worst crash record in aviation history

  28. that should have been too quick….anyway, Canadian QBs already have that stigma attached. Coaches and GMs, for the most part are imports, so they already lean toward US guys…and with good reason. They get way better coaching at a much earlier age in the US. Canadians have to play “catch up”…so yes, give BB a chance.

  29. So…with 38 ticks on the clock to end the first half, with the ball on their own 35 after a tabby FG, why did the Riders, basically, take a knee 3 times, instead of airing it out? They were down by 10 with, seemingly, no interest to close the gab before the half???????????

  30. Noodles Romanoff // July 23, 2018 at 11:52 am //

    With regards to this article…all well and said but the fact is, this game was against the Ticats. A team that made it an art to lose games. And I’m a Ticat fan!! The true test for the Riders and Bridge is if they can repeat this kind of performance against “good” teams. Teams that have a propensity at winning.

    It seems my Ticats are always..three steps forward..two steps back, then two steps forward and three steps back.

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