The Roughriders celebrated the July 1st holiday with their own fireworks, coming back from a 21-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Montreal Alouettes 54-51 in double overtime in a Grey Cup rematch at Mosaic Stadium.
"I need a breath!" laughed head Coach Ken Miller after the game. "I told the men it was unbelievable but it really is believable because we've done it before."
What IS unbelievable was the Riders being called for "too many men" on defense in overtime which allowed the Alouettes to tie the game and send it to a second overtime series. The "13th Man" cost the Riders the Grey Cup last year and threatened to cost them another win.
"I could not believe that," Miller fumed. "We can't make that kind of mistake and expect to win on a consistent basis."
So who's responsible for the gaffe? Two pro football players I spoke to in the days afterwards say it's the players' job to know how many men are on the field at any given time.
"It's a player's job to know what package is going in and to get the calls," explained former Rider Scott Schultz on CKRM Friday. "Everyone's responsible for where they're supposed to be on each play. The coaches can't be out there to tell you. YOU have to be aware of what's going on around you."
An NFL player from Regina agrees.
"Someone's gotta take charge of that sort of thing," said Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan on Friday. "I take it upon myself to make sure we have the right amount of guys on the field. Sometimes in the emotion of the game guys forget but you have to pay attention to the small things."
So perhaps the Riders overcame the curse of the 13th Man and can finally look ahead instead of behind. One thing's for sure; if they can come back like that against the greatest team in the CFL, they should be able to beat anybody this league has to offer.
So long as they do it with the right number of players.