September 29, 2018

‘Championship effort’ helps Bombers shut down Mike Reilly

The Canadian Press

EDMONTON — Even in the fast-paced, high-scoring world of three-down football, it’s still hard to beat a dominant defence.

That’s what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had on Saturday night, shutting down reigning Most Outstanding Player Mike Reilly on the way to a one-sided 30-3 win.

The Eskimos went into the game boasting the league’s top passing offence with 325.8 yards per game, but barely amassed half that. The Bomber defence forced seven turnovers, scored on a pick-six, and held the CFL’s leading passer to 164 yards, making a bold statement in front of a hostile crowd at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I’m a firm believer in defence wins championships, and that was a championship effort by our defence tonight,” quarterback Matt Nichols told “They played lights out against arguably the best offence in the league and they went toe to toe with them through four quarters.”

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Nichols and the Bomber offence were the benefactor of playing on a short field throughout most of the night, with 20 of the team’s 30 points coming off seven turnovers which included a blocked a punt, three interceptions, two fumbles and a turnover on downs.

Defensive back Kevin Fogg was directly responsible for three of those, forcing one fumble, recovering another and then scoring on a 71-yard interception return touchdown in the third quarter that all but put the game away.

“I saw my guy run an out, I drove on the out and I saw the ball coming out — and usually you don’t see that coming to the wide side like that, running a deep out like that — but I’m just glad I caught it,” said Fogg. “I’m glad I was in position, I’m glad that I scored.

“We knew the type of offence we were going to go up against,” he added. “It was good that we were able to contain them, keep Reilly in the pocket because he’s known to extend the play, taking shots downfield. We minimized it and we got the win.”

Nichols was efficient on the night, completing 16 of 20 passes for 179 yards and a late fourth-quarter interception. The Bombers took advantage of field position when it was there, and spent most of the second half grinding down the clock with workhouse running back Andrew Harris.

Harris finished with 73 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, pulling to within 90 yards of league-leading rusher William Powell. He added another 24 yards through the air on four receptions.

But in the end, the night belonged to the defence. Led by Fogg’s three takeaways, that unit never took its foot off the gas. Many would argue it was the Bombers’ most complete victory of the season.

“We finished the game,” said Fogg. “That was a big thing we took a step in. We had a chance to close games early in the season but we didn’t, so it was good to take that step forward and close it out.

“We knew the type of offence we were going to go up against,” he added. “The leading passer and the leading receiver, so we knew we had a challenge upon us.”


A week after applying constant pressure on Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Bombers overwhelmed the league’s leading passer from start to finish on Saturday night. In addition to all the turnovers, the Blue and Gold also had four sacks, including two from linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox.

“I thought we did well in all levels of our defence,” said Head Coach Mike O’Shea. “We pressured fairly well at times. Our back end obviously took away some of the stuff they want. I thought we tackled fairly well, for the most part. Linebackers were flying around.

“Everyone understood their job and was doing it for the most part.”

It was the kind of win that, at some point in November, in hindsight, could be viewed as a turning point in the season. Though the Bombers aren’t looking any further than Friday night’s date in the nation’s capital with another red-hot team in the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

The two-game winning streak surely feels nice, and has put the Bombers in a tie for third with the Eskimos at 7-7. But there’s no time to rest on the success.

“Football’s one of the biggest momentum sports there is,” said Nichols. “It carries over from game to game, and when you’ve got good momentum going, you’ve got to be able to sustain it — and when you’ve got bad momentum, you’ve got to be able to stop it in its tracks. I think we’ve done both of those things the last couple of weeks.

“We still have a lot to do,” he added. “If you lose next week and the other West teams win, you’re right back where you started. We’ll look one week ahead and try to get a win next week also.”

With files from