The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made a case for the defence and dramatically improved their playoff prospects in the process.
The Bombers (7-7) forced seven turnovers in a convincing 30-3 win over the Edmonton Eskimos (7-7) on Saturday night.
“It felt good, but it is a team effort,” said Winnipeg defensive back Kevin Fogg, who was responsible for two turnovers. “We were all out there making things happen. When we are all on, that is the type of stuff that can happen.
“We took a step forward in closing out this game as well as we did.”
The Blue Bombers have won two in a row, on the heels of a four-game losing streak. They’re now tied with Edmonton for third in the West.
“Our defence was phenomenal, from the jump,” said Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols, who was 16-of-20 passing for 179 yards. “Right off the bat, we blocked a punt and we just kept it rolling from there for the entire game, in all three phases.
“It shows that when we do what we are coached to do that we are a very good football that can beat very good football teams. That’s two weeks in a row. Now we just have to sustain it and keep doing what we are doing.”
The Eskimos have lost two straight and four of their last five and appear to be in something of a nose-dive. The team also lost league-leading receiver Duke Williams late in the game to an apparent shoulder injury.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting us to get beat 30-3 on our own turf,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “We did, and we’ve got to own it. If we learn from this, which we should, we’ll get better. That’s what we’re aiming for.
“Sometimes, it takes you to get knocked down like this before you rebound and become great.”
Edmonton’s attempted punt to close out its first possession was blocked and recovered by Marcus Sayles on the Eskimos’ 29-yard-line, leading to a Justin Medlock field goal for Winnipeg to open the scoring.
The Blue Bombers went up 10-0 six minutes into the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown plunge by backup quarterback Chris Streveler.
Winnipeg continued to dominate on both sides of the ball as a Taylor Loffler interception of a Mike Reilly pass led to a five-yard TD run by Andrew Harris.
Edmonton got a last-second field goal from Sean Whyte to at least get on the scoreboard at the half, trailing 17-3.
The Edmonton problems continued in the third quarter as Reilly was picked off by Fogg, who took the ball back 73 yards into the end zone.
Reilly had a ball pop loose on the next possession and the fumble was recovered by Fogg, leading to a Medlock field goal and a 27-3 Winnipeg lead.
Reilly looked to be a little shaken up late in the game and was replaced by Danny O’Brien.
Medlock added another field goal with just over a minute left.
The Blue Bombers remain on the road next week, travelling to Ottawa on Friday. The Eskimos are in Saskatchewan to play the Roughriders on Thanksgiving Monday.