When the Saskatchewan Roughriders have needed a play this season, they have gotten one from their defense. Monday was no different.
With just less than two minutes to play in a game that had been a defensive struggle and had some playoff-like intensity, Willie Jefferson intercepted a Mike Reilly pass at the Eskimos 49 and proceeded to score the Riders 7th pick-six of the season to turn what might have been defeat into victory as the Riders held off the Eskimos 19-12.
Jefferson took his time getting into the endzone as he did in Winnipeg when he scored on an interception return, but there was a method to his madness to this time as it took him 15 seconds to meander his way across the goal-line.
“Most of the time when I catch interceptions, it’s mostly just linemen and quarterbacks chasing me,” said Jefferson. “I already have my momentum going down the field, so I don’t really think any of them are going to catch me. So it was just cross the field, take a little time off the clock and, at the end of the day, get in the end zone.”
Zach Collaros had just given Edmonton the ball moments earlier when he threw an interception to Mercy Maston that looked like it may be a game-winner for the Eskimos until Jefferson’s heroics. He says it was somewhat surreal to see big number 7 rumbling down the sidelines and then across the field before finally crossing the goal-line.
“Wow, wow, wow”. Collaros said. “Just an unbelievable play by him. He read what Mike was doing, made the play and was smart enough to run the clock down.”
The win was the seventh in the last eight games for the Riders and improves their record to 10-5. While Saskatchewan does not win the season series against the Eskimos, they are three wins ahead of them in the standings and they have the season series over Winnipeg while holding the advantage over BC. It has the team sitting in a comfortable spot when it comes to a home playoff game, but head coach Chris Jones isn’t buying into that theory saying a lot of tough football has to be played yet.
“Have you looked at our schedule over the next three weeks?” Jones told reporters after the game. “We’re going against a Winnipeg team that is a very good football team at their place on a short week. We’ve certainly got our hands full there and they’re fighting for just the ability to be in the playoffs along with B.C., and then Calgary wants to win the division.
That game against the Bombers goes next Saturday in a 12 PM start Saskatchewan time.
- The Jefferson interception was one of three interceptions thrown by Reilly on the day. The others were by Nick Marshall and Ed Gainey
- Zach Collaros threw for 259 yards in the win with nine different players making catches
- Jordan Williams-Lambert left the game in the second half after being crushed by Edmonton linebacker JC Sherritt as he tried to make a catch. Head Coach Chris Jones indicated after the game that the rookie receiver appeared to be alright. Williams-Lambert also spoke to reporters after the game and said it looked a lot worse than it was
- Punter Josh Bartel played in his 100th career CFL game