The Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers faced off for second time this season with first place at stake. Back in week three, the Blue Bombers took advantage of the ‘big play’ in defeating the Eskimos and this week the Eskimos were looking to turn things around. The biggest story going into this week was Winnipeg placing Matt Nichols on the six game injured list after hurting his shoulder in last weeks win over the B.C. Lions. Chris Streveler would get the start and while he is not as experienced as Matt Nichols, he brings a different set of challenges to a defence.
The original forecast had called for clear skies and nice temperatures, but about an hour before kickoff, the rain started to fall and made for a sloppy game by both teams in the first half. The one thing that plagued the Eskimos in the first game was the inability to find the end zone and that continued again this week. Both teams struggled on offence with the Eskimos unable to get much of a running game going while the Blue Bombers could not get much of a passing game going. The teams exchanged field goals midway through the first quarter before the Blue Bombers capitalized on a Trevor Harris interception by Marcus Rios (tipped pass) to open up a 10-3 Blue Bomber lead.
The Eskimo offence once again struggled to find the end zone and dug themselves a significant hole as they trailed the Blue Bombers 20-9 at halftime. Although the Bombers scored 20 points, they only had 158 yards of offence! The difference in the game once again was that Winnipeg was able to take advantage their opportunities, while the Eskimos were not. The Edmonton offence put up over 200 yards in the first half, and once again all they had to show for it was three field goals. The Winnipeg defence was able pressure Trevor Harris and disrupt his rhythm a fair bit in the first half. Most of that came at the hands of former Eskimo Willie Jefferson who was doing it all…sacking the quarterback, stuffing the run and overall wreaking havoc.
Nothing really changed in the second half as the Eskimo offence continued to move the ball but continued to settle for field goals. Meanwhile, the Bomber offence on the backs of Andrew Harris and Chris Streveler had their way with the Eskimo defence. Streveler only had 64 yards passing at the end of the third quarter, while rushing for 73 yards. It was hard to watch the defences inability to deal with the Bombers running game when it was clear they could not throw the ball. The problem was compounded by sloppy tackling by the Eskimo defence which resulted in extended Winnipeg drives and points on the scoreboard.
With time ticking down in the fourth quarter and the Eskimos trailing by five points, the defence needed a stop to get the ball back for the offence. They appeared to accomplished that only to have two penalties called against them allowing Winnipeg to continue their drive and score a game killing touchdown. I watched the replay and found it hard to believe two penalties were called against Edmonton with nothing called against the Blue Bombers. On the replay, a Bomber lineman shoved Money Hunter through the face mask causing him to fall to the ground.
When all was said and done, the Eskimos really have no one to blame but themselves. They held the Bombers to less than 280 yards of offence, but somehow still managed to give up 34 points losing their fourth game of the season. Things do not get any easier for the Eskimos as they head into the Labour Day series with the Stampeder’s. The Eskimos will have to be better or they may find themselves in fourth place and out of a playoff spot in a few weeks.