1) Fourth quarter finish: Edmonton’s dominance in the last 15 minutes was on display yet again in Ottawa. Mike Reilly took advantage of a short field – courtesy of a poor Brett Maher punt – by hitting Chris Getzlaf for a touchdown and running in the two-point convert aroud the 10-minute mark, which gave the Esks a seven-point lead. A late, three-plus minute, clock-eating drive chewed valuable time. Those two possessions were important for the offence while Mike Benevides ‘D’ pitched a shutout in the final frame. Jason Maas’ group has outscored opponents 47-16 in the fourth quarter over the last four weeks, that’s how Edmonton has kept the undefeated run alive – the 13th team in CFL history to start a season 7-0.
2) Mitchell making the most: Since stepping in for Adarius Bowman at the boundary slotback position, Bryant Mitchell has been putting up numbers. Week 5 was the first time the 24-year-old suited up in a game with Mike Reilly and since then four starts have yielded 23 receptions for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He’s put together back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. Trust and rapport seem to have come quickly for Reilly with the budding young receiver, which has helped the offence produce. Mitchell brings a physical element to the position too.
3) Relentless pressure: Trevor Harris dealt with constant defenders messing up his pocket for most of the 60 minutes. Edmonton came in leading the league with 53 pressures and led by Odell Willis the Eskimos defensive front cranked up the stress on the quarterback. Willis, Da’Quan Bowers and Euclid Cummings notched sacks and besides the actual takedowns the pass rush was relentless in harassing Harris. Almondo Sewell (upper body) and Marcus Howard (knee) both left the game and Jason Maas described their injuries as “devastating”. If indeed the setbacks cause them to miss time, Bowers could possibly move into a starting role inside and based on performance rookie Canadian Kwaku Boateng deserves a chance to start at end.
4) O’Neill on point: When Sean Whyte was put on the six-game injured list, there was cause for concern surrounding how Edmonton could fill the role. Hugh O’Neill, a second round pick by B.C. in 2011, signed and he’s performed all three duties since. The 27-year-old has made six of seven field goals and punted the football well. O’Neill’s four three-pointers were important in the win against Ottawa, even though he missed a 49-yarder that could have put the game away.
5) MOP Mike: Mike Reilly’s campaign is gaining momentum each week. Derel Walker earned a contract from the Buccaneers and he’s impressing in Tampa Bay, Adarius Bowman – the league’s leading receiver last season – remains on the injured list where Brandon Zylstra joined him (one game) for Week 8, but Reilly put up another 300-yard game. Those were Edmonton’s top three receivers in 2016, and the fourth, John White is out for the season with a torn ACL. D’haquille Williams, an emerging playmaker, has been sidelined two games with injuries too. Yet, Reilly has made it work with whoever lines up across the board at receiver. Nine different players caught passes from Reilly in Ottawa – consider that while remembering all the targets list above injured and it’s remarkable. When Bowman was in the lineup for three games Reilly averaged more than 288 yards in the air and during the four games without Bowman over 365 yards – that’s oustanding.
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