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October 15, 2018

Winnipeg’s defence flex its muscles against Riders

The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — It was Winnipeg’s first shutout since 2006.

That right there just goes to show just how rare it is for a team to earn a shutout, especially with Canadian rules allowing the single-point.

“It feels great,” Taylor Loffer said following the team’s 31-0 win over the Roughriders on Saturday. “You don’t see that too often.”

“I’d like to think that we prepare them very well all week at practice,” Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols joked.

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“I’ve played in a lot of games where the defence played well enough for a shutout but then there was a single point somewhere,” said Nichols. “To have no points scored, I mean… unbelievable effort by our defence. They’ve been playing unbelievable football.”

Adam Bighill led the charge with three quarterback sacks and a forced fumble as he registered eight total tackles on the night.

“He’s been great for us this year,” Loffler said of his teammate. “He makes tons of plays. He’s a great team leader, so to have that guy on this team is big for us.”

Loffler also had himself a big night in the win, registering two interceptions early on in the game.

“We’re coming together at the right time,” said Bighill. “I’ve talked all year about playing our best football come November. We’re starting to see that.”

The last stretch of games for Winnipeg has been what some could consider a complete contrast from the team that they were heading into their last bye week.

Prior to their last week off, the Bombers faced a four-game losing streak, including back-to-back losses to the very same Roughriders team over Labour Day Weekend and the Banjo Bowl. Fast forward through that break and you’re looking at a team that’s heading into their final break with a four-game winning streak as they look to be in contention for second place in the West Division.

“We’re eliminating those four or five plays that were home runs against us: yardage or points,” says Bighill. “When you eliminate those plays, games look a lot different.”

They certainly do, as Winnipeg has outscored their opponent 132-49 in their winning stretch of four games.

“It’s not easy to get these wins, and it takes everyone out here to do it,” said Bighill, who went on to speak from his experience in the league, around this time is when the younger guys are starting to really take a firm grasp on how the defence operates.

Against Saskatchewan, Winnipeg’s defence finished the night only allowing 195 total yards. More impressively, perhaps, was the fact the Bombers totalled four quarterback sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions on the afternoon.

“Each week, we’ve been getting a little bit better,” Loffler said. “We just want to keep this momentum going into playoffs.”

The Blue Bombers will get some extra time to relish their spotless scoresheet from Saturday, along with their four-game winning streak as they spend Week 19 on their final bye before playing their final two games of the regular season.

“I know going into bye week off of four straight wins, a big win at home makes for a more enjoyable bye week,” Nichols says. “You can enjoy it for a couple more days and then right back to work. We’ve got a tough one in Calgary and then finish with Edmonton.”

Two tough games to finish up the season with, but with the roll the Bombers have found themselves on, they’re two games that are very much manageable in the eyes of the Winnipeg-hopeful.