Matt Nichols wasn’t going to give up when a comeback looked improbable.
The Winnipeg quarterback ran 15 yards to help set up Andrew Harris’s winning one-yard touchdown as time expired in a wild 41-40 Blue Bombers victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday.
“I was going to do anything to win that game,” Nichols said.
A Winnipeg comeback seemed unlikely when Stefan Logan scored a 31-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left in the game to make it 40-28 Alouettes, but that wasn’t the case.
Nichols marched his team down the field on their next possession and hit Ryan Lankford for a four-yard TD with 48 seconds on the clock.
Justin Medlock was then successful with his onside kick, as linebacker Brandon Alexander recovered the ball, and the Bombers started on their own 52-yard line with 44 seconds to play.
After a combination of penalties taken by Montreal propelled Winnipeg into Alouettes’ territory, Harris completed the comeback. The touchdown stood despite it appearing that Harris’s knee was down before crossing the goal-line.
“Honestly, there was no nerves about the onside (kick),” Nichols said. “I wasn’t antsy about it. I just had a feeling they were going to get it and I knew that once we got the opportunity, in my mind the game was over. We were going to go down and score.”
Nichols completed 34-of-43 pass attempts for 358 yards with no interceptions and two TDs.
Montreal pivot Darian Durant was 27-of-35 for 348 yards, two TDs and an interception that led to Harris’s first major off a two-yard run.
“It definitely showed true tonight. I think the biggest thing was the fact that we were down two scores and there was no quit in our team. It was a big win for us.”
The Bombers (3-2) had tied the game 27-27 in front of 25,931 fans at Investors Group Field off a Medlock 27-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in the third quarter, but a head’s up play by Montreal receiver Eugene Lewis led to the Alouettes retaking the lead.
With the ball looking like it was flying out of bounds, Lewis – making his CFL debut – batted it back into play and teammate B.J. Cunningham grabbed it and ran down to Winnipeg’s one-yard line.
The Alouettes (2-4) couldn’t break Winnipeg’s defensive stand, but regained a 30-27 lead with Boris Bede’s nine-yard field goal at 1:42 of the fourth quarter.
Medlock went wide right on a 37-yard field-goal attempt and Winnipeg settled for a single.
Bede stretched the lead to 33-28 with a 34-yarder at 9:08 and Logan followed up with his scoring run.
Receivers Clarence Denmark and backup quarterback Dan LeFevour also had majors for Winnipeg. Medlock was good on four converts (he kneeled on the final one), hit a pair of field goals from 35 and 27 yards and missed two.
Fullback Jean-Christopher Beaulieu and receivers Cunningham and Ernest Jackson also scored touchdowns for Montreal, while Bede connected on field goals from nine, 28, 34 and 35 yards and made four converts.
The visitors led 14-7 after the first quarter and 24-14 at halftime.