VANCOUVER -- In the minutes following the BC Lions’ narrow 20-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night, defensive line coach Carl Hairston quietly uttered to his fellow coaches, “that was a win in spite.”
It certainly rung true among the club’s coaching staff as the Leos pulled out a win in an extremely hostile environment on a short week of preparation.
“Sometimes you just have to be thankful for a win and not try to break it down too much,” said Lions head coach Mike Benevides. “Some of our best players made mistakes, took penalties and at times played without poise. Those same players also played their butts off and made plays that earned us a win and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”
The Lions now are now the undisputed leaders of the West Division, and now face another dangerous home team in the Montreal Alouettes on Friday to kick off Scotiabank Labour Day Weekend. The Leos dropped their season-opener in Montreal last year, but bounced back in the 2011 regular season finale with a dominating 43-1 win.
“Winnipeg showed everyone tonight that they are far better than their record would indicate,” said quarterback Travis Lulay who threw for 220 yards in the win, but was also picked off twice. “They threw everything they had at us and while we didn’t make it easy on ourselves, I’m proud of the way we never gave up.”
Lulay engineered a dazzling six-play, 75-yard drive in 2:29 to put the Lions up 17-14 and then threw two passes for a combined 40 yards to put Paul McCallum in position to nail a 41-yard field goal after the Bombers staged a lake comeback of their own.
“Last minute victories are fun, but I think we’d all rather be in victory formation (taking a knee) to kill off the last few seconds of a game,” added Lulay. “We’ll watch the film and then start preparing for a Montreal team that always seems to play well at home.”
Battling back after consecutive losses earlier this year, the Lions have rattled off four straight wins dating back to a convincing victory over the Calgary Stampeders in late July.
“There’s a cliché in sports about not asking how you won, just how many times you’ve won,” said slotback Geroy Simon.
“This is one of those nights where our play on the field is not a true indicator of how important that kind of win is for us. I am as proud tonight as I’ve been in any regular season game. Winnipeg is a great team and beating great teams is how you build towards a special season.”
Even if those wins come ‘in spite’.