Bombers extend Eskimos' dubious streak
The Edmonton Eskimos briefly fought to avoid defeat, but now have posted their worst losing streak to start the season in more than four decades.
The Eskimos were thoroughly dominated early by the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night and eventually fell 47-21 at Canad Inns Stadium.
Edmonton lost its fourth straight game to begin the season — a dubious feat the franchise hasn't seen since 1965.
"Bad start, turnovers and then we battled our way back in and then we were putting together a good drive to make it a one-score game and I had the interception," said Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray.
"We're just making a lot of turnovers, a lot of key mistakes and it's just been every game. We've just got to find a way to stop doing that because that's what's killing us."
Winnipeg (2-2) stopped a two-game losing skid by hammering the Eskimos on defence in the first half before pulling away in the game's final 15 minutes.
Defensive end Odell Willis was all over Ray early on.
Willis harassed the pivot with a sack and a batted pass. His also stripped Ray in the opening 15 minutes, which led to the Blue Bombers' first points of the game.
Ray was sacked three times in the first quarter and Edmonton could muster only six yards during that time.
Blue Bombers quarterback Steven Jyles, replacing the injured Buck Pierce, was solid in his first start of the season.
Improvising pays off
Jyles threw for 267 yards and one touchdown, including an improvised 46-yard toss to receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris in the second quarter. He rushed for two other scores, but also tossed two interceptions.
"If Buck is healthy to go, he was the starter and I was the backup. That was my role as a backup," said Jyles, 27, whose first start was in 2008 for Saskatchewan.
"I'm just happy that the guys depended on me when Buck got hurt and I was able to get them a win."
Ray, meanwhile, suffered through a miserable game as he was intercepted twice and was sacked four times.
Ray finished the game completing 18-of-25 passes for 202 yards and a pair of TDs.
"They stepped up today. I'm very proud of them guys," said Jyles of the Winnipeg defence.
Winnipeg scored at 4:04 of the first quarter to grab the early 7-0 advantage. Willis forced the ball loose and it fell into the hands of Moton Hopkins.
The defensive lineman saw nothing but a green field en route to a 36-yard touchdown return.
After Edmonton punter Noel Prefontaine conceded two points, the Bombers scored on their next drive. Jyles led a three-play, 54-yard drive, leading to a four-yard TD run by tailback Fred Reid, who put Winnipeg up 16-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Jyles then worked his magic more than four minutes into the second. The backup pivot scrambled to get away from an Edmonton rush and throw across his body to Jeffers-Harris, who did the rest to give the Bombers a 23-point lead.
However, a blocked field-goal attempt allowed the Eskimos to march down the field and score a last-second TD by slotback Jason Barnes.
The score seemed to lift the Eskimos, who cut Winnipeg's lead to 23-14 just 5:00 into the third quarter.
After linebacker Javier Glatt picked off Jyles, Ray engineered an eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive, ending when running back Calvin McCarty took a shuffle pass from the Edmonton QB and powered seven yards for the touchdown.
But kicker Alex Serna nailed a 45-yarder on Winnipeg's next drive, giving the Blue Bombers a 26-14 lead.
The Eskimos appeared headed for another touchdown until Winnipeg cornerback LaVar Glover intercepted Ray and scampered past midfield.
Glover's big play was the turning point of the game as it allowed Jyles to score on a two-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter, extending Winnipeg's advantage to 33-14.
The teams then combined for 21 points to finish off the high-scoring affair.
The loss will add fuel to speculation that Richie Hall will be fired if he fails to turn the team around, but the Eskimos' second-year head coach isn't worrying about it.
"Why should I?" asked Hall. "Why worry about things that I have no control over? Like I said the other day, if something happens the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll get on with life."
With files from The Canadian Press