Matt Nichols’ wallet is going to be a lot lighter this week.
After the quarterback guided the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-2) to a convincing 41-19 victory over the B.C. Lions (1-2) in his season debut on Saturday, Nichols said he’s planning to show his appreciation to the offensive line.
“They did an unbelievable job tonight and I’ll make sure that they’re taken care of and well-rewarded for games like that,” Nichols said.
“They have a deal when we win with no sacks that they get a nice steak dinner so we’ll figure that out and maybe sweeten the pot with something on top of that, too, ’cause you don’t get many games like that.”
Nichols, who injured his right knee during a practice at training camp last month, didn’t get sacked once as he completed 16-of-29 pass attempts for 162 yards with one touchdown toss to Darvin Adams and no interceptions.
He said he felt “great” to get back in the huddle, but missed a few throws that he wanted back in the first game of a home-and-home series.
Bombers running back Andrew Harris said he was hoping to go along for the dinner for contributing some blocks. He also benefited from the offensive line, rushing 12 times for 109 yards with a four-yard touchdown. He added four catches for 22 yards.
“I wouldn’t really call it a breakout,” Harris said of his performance. “We just got in a rhythm. Those five guys in front of me were doing their job. I was able to make some guys miss and accumulate yardage. It was a great game all round.”
Nichols shared the scoring spotlight with rookie backup Chris Streveler, who started the first three games of the season. Streveler ran in a pair of one-yard touchdowns.
“It adds another dynamic,” Nichols said of Streveler’s skills.
Streveler was 3-for-5 passing for 45 yards and ran five times for 33 yards, including a 26-yard romp in front of 26,567 fans, who viewed the game under sweltering conditions at Investors Group Field. It was 34 C at kickoff, but 44 C with the humidity.
The Lions could have a different starting quarterback when the teams play the rematch next Saturday in B.C.
Jonathon Jennings was 15-for-24 for 105 yards with two interceptions, both to former Lions middle linebacker Adam Bighill, who ran the second pick 54 yards for a touchdown. It was the 10th interception of Bighill’s seven-year career, but his first pick-six. He played for the Lions from 2011-16.
Jennings hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in a game this season.
“Our passing game has to be a lot more efficient than it is right now. It’s not very efficient at all,” Lions head coach Wally Buono said.
B.C. veteran pivot Travis Lulay, who had off-season knee surgery, dressed as a backup but didn’t see any action.
Buono said the team’s difficulties don’t stem from just one player, but he’d consider a quarterback change for the rematch.
“That’s obvious, right?” he said. “It depends on who’s out there and who’s available.”
Will Lulay be ready to start next week?
“I’m not going to say he is or isn’t,” Buono said. “He made a lot of progress this week and I’m hoping that he makes a lot more progress next week.”
Jennings said the game was disappointing “through and through.”
“We just know we’re better than that,” he said. “I know I’m much better than that. It’s frustrating when you don’t go out there and do it so we’ve got to get back to the drawing board and figure it out.”
Winnipeg kicker Justin Medlock made five converts and hit field goals from 31 and 21 yards out.
Lions running back Jeremiah Johnson pushed in two yards for a touchdown and backup quarterback Cody Fajardo added a one-yard TD run with 13 seconds left in the game. A two-point convert failed. Kicker Tyler Long was good on his one convert and booted field goals from 19 and 42 yards.
B.C. opened the scoring with a 19-yard field goal from Long, but Winnipeg responded with four straight touchdowns on the way to a 28-10 halftime lead.