EDMONTON – In the end, Chris Streveler saved his best for last.
Streveler, who was forced into the spotlight after Matt Nichols suffered a serious shoulder injury a week ago, was having a spectacular evening before making the game's key game in the waning minutes. The quarterback Blue Bombers, with the victory in the balance, was facing a second and goal of 6 of Edmonton Eskimos when he slipped the ball under his arm and drove through a line of aspiring tacklers, eventually finding the final zone for a touchdown.
The score inflated the Bombers to 30-18 with just over two minutes remaining, an advantage large enough for many fans to reach the exits. In true CFL style, a league in which anything can happen, it wouldn't be enough to exhale Bombers fans. Edmonton made a brave effort to snatch away the victory, including a 75-yard touchdown of receiver Tevaun Smith that made him a score game with just over a minute remaining.
A failed penalty kick, which required a revision by the command center, returned the ball to the bombers and ended the drive with a 50-yard field goal by Justin Medlock that eventually sealed the victory. The Eskimos have added a 48-yard field goal to scratch their best player in the night, the footballer Sean Whyte, when the time is up, leaving the Bombers with a 34-28 victory on Friday night at the Commonwealth Stadium.
"At the end of the game it is essential to play clean football and not make penalties," Streveler told CJOB 680 after the game, referring to a couple of flags against Edmonton who put the touchdown on the field. "I feel great right now. It's nice to win."
The victory improved the Bombers record to the best 8-2 in the league, and completed the Eskimo series of two games. Winnipeg has now won three consecutive and remains perfect in the West Division (5-0).
"It was a great victory. The West is not easy," he told CJOB Medlock, who was 4 out of 4. "You always have to play at the top of the game, slip for a few games and you will be in third place quickly. "
Edmonton dropped to 6-4 with the loss of staying second in the West, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-3) Calgary Stampeders (5-4) on their heels. It was the first home defeat for the Eskimos in eight games dating back to last season.
Streveler tried only 17 passes in the night, completing only seven for 89 yards, in what was only his fifth CFL start. He added 95 precipitating yards on 14 courses while the bombers' attack collected a total of 251 yards of net crime.
The Eskimos have dominated in offensive construction sites, for a total of 489, also leading to the first declines (from 22 to 17) and to the time of possession (from 31:39 to 28:21). But the Bomber defense, despite having given up a good 430 meters to the Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris, emerged when it mattered most, limiting the Eskimos to seven field goals by Sean Whyte, including 0-for-3 in the red zone.
"Three bags, two forced chatter, a couple of contrasts – I would say this was the best game I've ever had in my career," said Willie Jefferson, who was responsible for crushing the ball from the limits on the free kick, he said. "It was a crazy game."
The bombers knew that if they left the night successfully, they would have to reach Harris. Harris entered the night with 3,051 yards in the middle of the season. At first it seemed that Harris was settling into his usual self.
During his first trip, he connected with DaVaris Daniels for a 46-yard gain, bringing Edmonton to an initial 3-0 lead with a 20-yard field goal from Whyte. Harris would have finished with 103 yards passing at the end of the first quarter, but it was his mistakes in the opening frame that led his team to lose 10-3.
After the Bombers tied the match 3-3 with a 27-yard field goal from Medlock, Harris replaced his 35, but he wouldn't make it long before returning it to visitors. Jefferson, who declared at the beginning of this week that he was "starting to reach his peak", recorded his league at the head of the fourth forced fumble, snatching the ball from a climbing Harris's hand. Winnipeg, which took the place of the Edmonton 24, marched towards the distance of smell of the final zone.
But the bombers returning Andrew Harris were deprived of the ball by the defensive striker Almondo Sewell and Edmonton took the lead by just 3. Just when it seemed that the Eskimos could surrender safely, a second offside to Jeffersonon and 10 has given new life to the guide. Harris would connect with Daniels on a 32-yard pass in the next play, and suddenly Edmonton was spinning once more.
But just as they reached the midfield, Harris was intercepted, the ball came off the hand of the defensive bomber defense Alex McCallister, who was signed on Monday and in the arms of a diving Marcus Rios. Rios, who was recently reactivated from the list of 6-game injuries, quickly stood up and promptly re-tuned the 46-yard ball for a touchdown, giving Winnipeg the first advantage.
He didn't seem to shake Harris, who returned to Daniels at the start of the second quarter. The completion of 54 yards to Daniels, who finished with a 207 game that received yards on 10 catches, pushed the Eskimos at an impressive distance. But the drive finally froze and Whtye was called for a 37-yard field goal, cutting the bombers to 10-6.
While Harris was seen as a major obstacle for bombers, the Eskimo defense was also a high order for a Winnipeg crime that was now led by Streveler. The Eskimos not only allowed fewer points (18) and fewer yards (258) per game, but they also had more sacks than any other CFL club, with 30.
Streveler didn't have a great start and the rain helped with his handle on the ball. He fumbled on the second game of the game, although he recovered it and the bombers aimed. But the 24 year old showed his versatility before the break.
Streveler is known for his impetuous abilities, a key resource in his previous role as a short-yardage pivot, ending with a 61-yard run compared to 64 going through two quarters. Almost half of that total rush would be on a 30-yard dash in the middle of the second quarter, with Streveler pushed out of bounds just below the net. One game later, Harris crashed the ball from two meters out, giving the Bombers a 17-6 lead.
Streveler would have had a last chance to add to the command of the bombers before the interval. On 17-9 after another stalled round ended with another Whyte field goal for Edmonton, Streveler orchestrated a quick five-game series of 32 yards that put Medlock at a distance. The 51-yard boot eliminated the riser from a nail and the Bombers took a 20-9 lead over the break.
The last time these two teams met, in week 3 in Winnipeg, the Bombers won on the 28-21, thanks largely to Edmonton's inability to find the final zone. That Whyte game represented all the points of the Eskimos, with seven goals in the field.
This model continued during the first half of Friday and in the third quarter. A promising attempt by Edmonton to open the second half was once again denied, leading to another short throw of Whyte. His 29-yard field goal, 5:23 in the third quarter, made him a score, 20-12.
Harris, the Winnipeg, said that the Bombers, under the Streveler offense, would have made it simple, chewing time with mostly strong races. They were able to do it for a good stretch in the third, as Streveler tried only three passes in the frame – with zero completions – taking more than five minutes before setting a 37-yard field from Medlock. 23-12 bombers.
Immediately afterwards, the Eskimos responded with a long lap, only for Whyte who started his fifth goal in the field, this from 29 yards, to make it a game 23-15. It came to a point where something eventually had to give, but it wouldn't be, at least not on the next Edmonton possession.
Once again, another promising series would involve only three points. Faced with the second and the 6th on the 14th of Winnipeg, Harris was deviated by his passage, by who else, Jefferson. Jefferson, CFL leader's knockout at the ninth step, forced an overwhelmed Whyte to go out again; a 21-yard kick cut the bomber advantage to 23-18 with less than eight minutes remaining. The Bombers, who needed a spark in attack, responded with the saving touchdown of Streveler's game.
The bombers continue their walk through the west division with consecutive matches against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, starting from the Labor Day Classic slant next week. The Eskimos will travel next weekend with the first leg of the Battle of Alberta, playing Calgary Stampeders visitors before returning the favor the following week.
After a series of injuries playing hockey that included broken wrist, arm and neck; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff thought it was a good idea to get his interest in ice and classroom sports.
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