CALGARY - The Saskatchewan Roughriders had their sights set on finishing first in the CFL's West Division and hosting the division final on Nov. 17.
That all came to a crashing halt following a 29-25 loss to the Calgary Stampeders in front of 33,671 fans at McMahon Stadium on Saturday.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win this game, but this wasn't the Grey Cup, this wasn't the western final," said Saskatchewan coach Corey Chamblin following the setback. "It was us playing a good team in the regular season.
"They're a very good football team. I think we're a good football team too. We've just got to learn how to play with the best."
The Riders (11-6) will now close out the regular season when they host the Edmonton Eskimos (3-14) next Saturday before playing the B.C. Lions (9-7) in the division semifinal on Nov. 10 at Regina's Mosaic Stadium, which is also the site of this year's Grey Cup.
"We know that we're guaranteed a home playoff game, which is a positive," Chamblin said. "We have to get ready for the next opponents. That's Edmonton and that's B.C."
Quarterback Darian Durant said the Riders are motivated to do whatever it takes to earn a rematch against the Stamps in the division final in Calgary on Nov. 17.
"It don't matter where we have to go or what path we have to take," said Durant, who completed 17-of-31 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Stamps. "The Grey Cup is the goal, so it doesn't matter where you play. It's a 110-yard football field that we have to play with regardless of where it is."
Durant said that he feels that his squad squandered an opportunity to win the game and that the Riders have what it takes to earn a trip back to Calgary for a rematch against the Stamps.
"We've won here before," Durant said. "It's always a dog fight when we play these guys and tonight was no different. Not to overlook B.C., we have make sure we take care of them if we want to get back."
After being held to 42 yards on 11 carries against Calgary, running back Kory Sheets talked about the healthy rivalry between the Riders and the Stamps.
"In between those whistles, we can't stand each other," Sheets said. "We're going to try and take each other's head off. Outside of those whistles, it's all love and we've got a healthy respect for each other."
Dwight Anderson, who played for the Stamps from 2008-10, didn't mince words regarding his thoughts about his former team.
"It doesn't matter," Anderson said. "We're coming here and we're going to beat them. Period. We're the better team. Calgary sucks."
Fellow defensive back Weldon Brown admitted that emotions ran high following the loss because the Riders truly believed they let the game slip away.
"We were all fired up," Brown said. "We're all upset about the game because we didn't get the outcome that we wanted."
Saskatchewan led 25-22 in the fourth quarter before Calgary quarterback Drew Tate led the Stamps on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Jon Cornish.
"We knew the game was going to come down to the last second," Brown said. "They just made one more play than we made and they came out on top.
"We've got to keep our heads up. We've still got playoffs and we've still got opportunity for the Grey Cup. We've just got to get the job done at the end of the day."
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