Winnipeg – A lack of discipline and defense were two key factors in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers losing 40-26 to the Edmonton Eskimos in a key CFL West Division battle in front of 24,706 fans Friday Night at Investors Group Field.
A second straight loss, after a seven game winning streak, drops the Bombers to 8-6 while a second consecutive victory improved Edmonton to 7-7 and back into the race for third place in the CFL West Division.
The Eskimos vaunted offense rolled up 455 net yards against a Winnipeg defensive unit that had all kinds of problems containing Mike Reilly and his dynamic duo of Adarius Bowman and Derrell Walker.
Adding to the Blue Bombers difficulties- getting flagged 15 times for 166 yards, including an illegal blocking penalty on Jesse Briggs in the second quarter that wiped out a punt return for a touchdown by Kevin Fogg. The fourth time this season Fogg has had a punt return for a major nullified by a penalty.
The Blue Bombers were able to get off to a great start as Matt Nichols hit Westin Dressler on a 49 yard pass and run play for the game’s opening touchdown 6 1/2 minutes into the first quarter. But the Eskimos, now 6-0 all time at Investors Group Field, responded with a 12 play- 89 yard drive that was capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by John White to tie the game 7-7.
After Edmonton went up 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Blue Bombers were on the verge of regaining the lead when Dressler fumbled at the Eskimos 5 yard line in another momentum changing play.
The defending Grey Cup champs scored a pair of touchdowns late in the first half, with Mike Reilly finding Adarius Bowman from 15 yards out. Followed by a White 5 yard run for a 24-10 lead at halftime.
A 36 yard Nichols to Clarence Denmark pass early in the 4th quarter had the Bombers claw back to within 10 points of Edmonton. A Justin Medlock single and field goal made it a one possession game at 29-24 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining. But the Eskimos added a third field goal of the game by Sean Whyte after moving the ball all the way to the Blue Bomber 3 yard line. And then Reilly’s 61 yard pass to Derrell Walker with 1:46 to play sealed the deal.
Bowman and Walker each caught 8 passes for 97 and 120 yards respectively while White added 7 catches for 64 yards and rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries as Edmonton dominated time of possession by a nearly 36-24 margin.
Reilly was 32/38 for 355 yards while Nichols almost kept pace by completing 26 of 41 passes for 330 yards. Dressler was his primary receiver, catching 4 passes for 79 yards but was targeted 11 times.
The Bombers, who lost defensive back Bruce Johnson and special teamer Pascal Lochard to first half injuries, will try to end the mini slide next Saturday afternoon when they host BC.