Riders need to match Eskimos desperation

A loss ends Edmonton's season
Reported by Joel Gasson
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Desperation can make people do some things they normally wouldn't.

The Edmonton Eskimos will be coming to Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon a very desperate team. If they don't win, then their season is over as they will be eliminated from all playoff contention. It could still be over should the Montreal Alouettes beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this weekend; something that is pretty possible.

Needless to say the Eskimos will be playing with everything on the line.

"We're desperate too," said head coach Corey Chamblin. "We need the wins as much as they do, we both have goals."

The Riders have already achieved one of those goals when they clinched a playoff spot last week. However, they still want to clinch a winning season and improve their position in the standings.

It's all fine and dandy for the Riders to be saying that they're just as desperate as the Eskimos, but no matter how much it's said it doesn't make it true. The fact is the Riders can't be as desperate as a team whose season is literally on the line.

So how do they match what the Eskimos could bring Saturday afternoon?

"It's easy," said linebacker Mike McCullough. "We still want to be first in the west."

The Riders will need some help to get to first in the west at the end of the season, but the first thing they need to make that happen is a win.

Another way the Riders can ratchet up the intensity is simply to look at the calendar; it's the home stretch of the season and every game is bigger than the last.

"Everything happens much faster now, you have to have a sense of urgency," said quarterback Darian Durant. "There's no time for mistakes, you have to make sure you have your game polished."

Adding to the urgency of the season is the fact that every game for every team in the final few weeks is against their own division. Playing the most important games of the season all within the division will only make the games more intense on the field.

"Definitely makes crunch time every game," said offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte. "When you're playing division rivals there's no room to slip up."

Not being able to slip up this time of year because of the divisional games is compounded by the fact that the Riders, Stampeders and Lions are all bunched together fighting for playoff positioning.

If that's still not enough to get the team fired up, they also have the chance to end the season of a division rival.

"When a team is down and out you want to make sure you stomp on their throat, so to speak" said Durant. "That's our goal to let them know they're in a hornets nest and they're going to have to deal with us all day."

All in all, these kinds of games at this time of year are the ones players live for.

"Each game as we go forward is more important to our lively hood and how long we want to keep our season going," said LaBatte. "Those are definitely the funnest games to play."

News and Notes

- DB Rod Williams is out at least a month with what Chamblin called a small fracture in his arm.

- With Williams out, Prince Miller looks like the man to replace him this week.

- Because he missed most of the week with the birth of his child, it appears DL Jermain McElveen will be out of the rotation along the defensive line.

- The fun is definitely back at practice, as players walked off the field after a speech by Chamblin, offensive coordinator George Cortez imitated Kory Sheets waddling off the field like he did against the Lions.