Welcome to the home stretch.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders closed the book on the opening "two-thirds" of the 2010 schedule Saturday night with a thrilling come-from-behind 32-25 victory over the Tigercats in Hamilton. It upped the club's record to 8-4, and left them a game back of 9-3 Calgary for first-place heading into the final six games of the 18 game schedule.
The Riders can thank the rival Stampeders for helping them regain the mojo which had gone missing in the late-summer. The Stamps must have overlooked the Riders two weeks ago in Regina, allowing Saskatchewan to beat them 43-37 in overtime which snapped a seven game win streak.
Rider GM Brendan Taman noted before the Hamilton game that his charges seemed to have regained their confidence against Calgary and it hit a higher level in Steeltown on Saturday. Quarterback Darian Durant threw for over 400 yards and receivers Weston Dressler and Rob Bagg each went over the 100 yard mark as the club erased a 15-0 deficit and came back for the victory.
"Saturday was one of those games where you're on the fence," explained Rider DE Luc Mullinder. "You can either fall on the side of being a bad team and fall off from that point or you can go on the side of 'hey let's go!' and we really united. It was awesome seeing our offense start picking it up and being on the sidelines when our 'O' is scoring.
"So it motivates you to go out there and say 'we're in this together so let's get a 2-and-out and get our offense back on the field.' That provides the confidence that we all need and we inspire each other. We can't NOT do our part when the offense is doing theirs."
Rider coach Ken Miller was brimming with pride over his team's resilience against the Ticats, and was happy to see back-to-back victories for the first time since Week 3.
"I'll tell you what this is a tough place to win," Miller smiled. "The men battled and made big plays on offense and got some turnovers on defense and the special teams played real well. I'm real pleased with our club."
So away we go into one of the most exciting times of the year ... the home stretch. If you break the season into thirds, the Green & White have gone 4-2 in the first two 6-game segments and are on pace for another 12-win season.
Now with the Stampeders faltering with back-to-back losses and heading into two straight games against Grey Cup-champion Montreal, the stars may be aligning for another Rider first-place finish and perhaps even 13 wins.
It's going to be a heckuva finish. Next up for the Riders is a visit to Toronto on Saturday.