CFL

Roughriders feels the sting of second straight Grey Cup loss

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The Canadian Press
11/29/2010 1:37:12 AM
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EDMONTON -- It was a familiar, sombre scene in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' dressing room after Sunday's Grey Cup.

For the second straight year, the Roughriders lost the CFL's championship game to Montreal by a narrow margin, falling 21-18 to the Alouettes.

Once again, players were shaking their heads or staring off into space while the Alouettes were celebrating another title, but in Commonwealth Stadium this time.

"Two years in a row we've fallen short," Roughrider quarterback Darian Durant said. "We've got to figure out as a team what do we need to do as a team to get over the hump."

The Roughriders ran onto the field to celebrate last year at Calgary's McMahon Stadium when Als kicker Damon Duval missed from 44 yards. But Saskatchewan was called for too many men on that play and Duval was good on his second try from 33 yards for a 28-27 victory.

The thousands of Roughriders fans that followed their team to Calgary and again this year to Edmonton to create a sea of green went away feeling the trophy eluded them once again.

While Durant and head coach Ken Miller says last year's loss stung more because they thought they'd won, the Roughriders knew they needed just one or two big plays Sunday to win this year's low-scoring championship.

Durant led the CFL in passing this season with 5,542 yards and was the league's top rushing quarterback with 618 yards. Saskatchewan's attack sputtered Sunday, managing five first downs to Montreal's 10, and 305 total yards to the Als' 452.

Durant completed 18 of 31 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown throw, and had one carry for eight yards. Saskatchewan managed just 90 yards on the ground.

Roughrider receiver Andy Fantuz said his club was too conservative on offence. Fantuz was the CFL's leading receiver this season but had four catches for 66 yards on Sunday.

"We definitely left some plays out there," Fantuz said. "We had a bunch of third and ones and third and twos that, if we would have made first downs on those then we could have kept the drive going and it could have been a different game, but I don't want to point any fingers."

Durant said any criticism of play-calling was "a cop-out."

"We just didn't do enough to win," he stated.

Trailing 21-11, Durant tossed a one-yard pass to offensive lineman Marc Parenteau for a touchdown with 3:30 remaining.

The Roughriders had a slim chance at a winning touchdown, but a better chance at a field goal to tie it late in the game after a Duval miss from 39 yards gave them life. But Durant, scrambling out from under Alouettes bodies at the 37-yard line, tried to throw the ball out of bounds and was intercepted by Montreal's Billy Parker with 56 seconds remaining.

"I was just trying to get rid of the ball and not take a sack and put us in a long yardage situation," Durant explained. "I was really trying to throw it out of bounds. I didn't see anyone over there out of my peripheral vision."

Defensive lineman Keith Shologan was named the game's top Canadian for two sacks on Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman also played well with a sack and 10 tackles.

Saskatchewan, which finished second in the West Division with a 10-8 record this season, is 3-15 in Grey Cups. The Roughriders last won the CFL championship in 2007.

Speculation has been that Miller's third season as head coach of the club could be the last for the 64-year-old. Miller says he and the team have yet to decide his future.

"After you lose a game like this, you say 'I'd like another shot at it,"' Miller said. "I don't know exactly how I would have felt if we'd won it. It might have been' that's good enough' or 'I'd like to do it again."'

Byron Bullock (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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