WINNIPEG – It was early in the fourth quarter and Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Ken Miller was considering making a quarterback change with his team down 31-14 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
But Miller waited to see if Michael Bishop could get something going and the new Riders’ pivot didn’t disappoint.
Bishop threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Weston Dressler at 4:28 – the rookie’s second of the game – and then sailed a 32-yard TD pass to Vincent Marshall at 10:10.
Kicker Luca Congi then booted a 17-yard field goal to tie the game 31-31 with 1:11 left on the clock.
Bishop returned to the field and marched his team, firing a 45-yard pass to Gerran Walker that set up Congi’s winning 29-yarder and a 34-31 Roughriders victory over Winnipeg in front of a capacity crowd of 29,770 at Canad Inns Stadium.
“I’m very happy with Michael,” Miller said of Bishop, who was acquired in a trade with Toronto Aug. 23.
“When we went into the fourth quarter, I really went through a period where if he had gone another series or so and not been productive, I was thinking about possibly making a change.”
“And then we started moving the ball like gangbusters and then he made the plays that really helped us win the ball game.”
The victory gave the defending Grey Cup champion Riders an 8-2 record. Winnipeg drops to 2-8.
Bishop, who led the Riders to a 19-6 victory over Winnipeg last week in his first game with Saskatchewan, completed 24 of 30 passes for 370 yards.
“In a situation like that, you want to have a chance to win at the end,” Bishop said.
“There was no doubt in my mind that we had a chance to win. Our defence played hard for us and got the ball back.”
Saskatchewan running back Wes Cates also scored on a three-yard TD run and finished with 14 carries for 92 yards.
Dressler led all receivers with six catches for 119 yards.
Bombers slotback Milt Stegall had three catches for 51 yards, leaving him 16 yards behind Allen Pitts’ CFL career receiving yardage record of 14,891.
Winnipeg receiver Terrrence Edwards caught TD passes of 13 and 41 yards. Fred Reid and new running back Joe Smith each scored on one-yard runs and Alexis Serna added a 41-yard field goal.
Smith, acquired in a trade last week from B.C. in exchange for Winnipeg all-time leading rusher Charles Roberts, was cheered by the crowd from his first run and had 11 carries for 33 yards. Reid rushed 11 times for 51 yards.
“We didn’t have a killer instinct as far as playing hard,” said Glenn, who was 21-of-29 for 256 yards.
Glenn was hit in the head during the game’s last drive, but said he was OK, at least physically.
“These (games) are tough ones,” Glenn said. “You really get blown out when you go through one of these.
“I don’t know, we just better move on and play Toronto next week. We can’t dwell on this game. Learn from it and move on.”
Winnipeg linebacker Ike Charlton was as shell-shocked as his teammates in a quiet Bombers dressing room.
“The whole second half, defensively we didn’t finish,” Charlton said.
“The offence did what they needed to do, they put points on the board. Hats off to Saskatchewan for one thing, but we gave it to them.”
Staring at a 2-8 record is a reality that is tough to swallow, he said.
“We’re in a big hole, but who knows what can happen,” Charlton said. “Mentally, we’ve got to find a way to claw out of it.”
Both teams were hit by injuries.
Saskatchewan defensive end John Chick, who just got back from injury, left the game with a broken ring finger. Winnipeg linebacker Joe Lobendahn, who replaced an injured Barrin Simpson early in the season, was helped off the field with a knee injury.