Winnipeg – It was anything but an artistic success but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders engaged in a tough, hard-nosed, physical battle Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg with the Bombers gutting out a 17-10 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 33, 234. A 7 play 94-yard drive early in the fourth quarter that saw Bomber quarterback Matt Nichols score on his second one-yard touchdown dive of the game broke a 10-10 tie. That winning drive came after Kevin Fogg ripped the ball out of Saskatchewan receiver Caleb Holley’s hands, the Bombers recovering at their 16 yard line.
The Bombers used a similar formula for their 6th straight victory. They forced 3 turnovers, didn’t turn the ball over, and made more key plays than the opposition. Nothing fancy, just gritty, down and dirty football that has seen the Bombers rebound from a 1-4 start to a solid 7-4 record and third place in the CFL West, just 2 points behind the second place B.C Lions. In their 6 game win streak, the Bombers have forced 26 turnovers and committed only 4. Those are almost surreal numbers in the turnover department over such a stretch of games.
It was the first game in a 5-game stretch that will see the Bombers play 4 games at home and it raised their modest home record to 2-3. It also marked the first time since 2004 that the Bombers have swept the home and home series with the Riders, who fell to 1-10, but who gave the Bombers all they could handle in the back to back games. And for Nichols, it meant that in the last 6 starts he has thrown only one interception, another key to the Bombers success.
The win may have been costly for the Bombers. Running back Andrew Harris and leading tackler, linebacker Ian Wild, left the game in the first half. Harris had an ankle injury, Wild a shoulder problem. There was no update on their status after the game although Harris’s problem is not believed to be serious. Receiver Ryan Smith also left with a thumb injury. The availability of those three for Saturday’s home game against Toronto is uncertain.