Having already been eliminated from the playoffs during the bye week last week, the Eskimos were playing for pride to close out the season. The Eskimos will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and the fans are not very happy about how this season has gone. With so much uncertainty heading into the offseason, there are a lot of questions surrounding the club and who will and will not be returning next year.
While the Eskimos got the ball to start the game, it was the Blue Bombers that hit the scoreboard first with a 28 yard field goal by Ryan Lankford to open the score. Langford was kicking for the injured Justin Medlock. The Eskimos responded on their next drive with a nine play 85 yard touchdown drive culminating in a spectacular catch by Duke Williams in the end zone. It was a short lived lead as the Bombers only needed two plays to go 80 yards to take the lead again. Bomber quarterback Chris Streveler hit Cory Washington for a 69 yard touchdown pass that was reviewed but upheld. Although the Eskimos had nothing really to play for and the Bombers rested many of their starters, this game did not lack intensity. Reilly was getting hit a fair bit which had some fans questioning the team but if you know Mike Reilly, he was not going to come out of this game if he had any say.
With the Eskimos having a 17-10 halftime lead there had to be fans wondering if trend of being outscored in the second half would continue. The Bombers got the ball to start the second half and Bryan Bennett came out to direct the Winnipeg offense. The Eskimos continued with all of their veterans and that showed in the third quarter. Bennett was not able to move the Bomber offense and had only 1 yard of passing and while he was in the game and Streveler returned early in the fourth quarter after the Eskimos extended their lead to 30-10.
Streveler did not waste any time as he drove the Bombers on a 68 yard 5 plays TD drive to make the score 30-15 with over 10 minutes left in the game! The Eskimo defense was giving up a lot of yardage in the fourth quarter, but they had the clock on their side. The Bombers made things interesting scoring yet another touchdown with over six minutes left in the game, but the Eskimo defense stepped up and got a couple of turnovers on downs and secured a 33-24 win to close out the season.
There are going to be a lot of questions this offseason with the way things ended and the biggest has to be the status of QB Mike Reilly. Reilly (along with many other QB’s) become free agents at the end of the season and with no ‘collective bargaining agreement’ in place there is no rush for any of them to sign contracts. The next big question is the status of head coach Jason Maas who signed a two-year contract extension through 2020. With a new salary cap for football operations coming into place next year, there seems to be some confusion as to whether a coach fired this year would have their remaining salary count towards that cap next season. All of this is going to make for one of the most interesting off seasons in quite some time.