Bombers hand Eskimos 1st loss of season
Winnipeg 5-1 for 1st time in 24 years
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers may have handed the Edmonton Eskimos their first loss of the season, but they weren't thumping their chests after the 28-16 home victory Friday night.
Buck Pierce threw for two touchdowns and ran one in himself as the Bombers went to 5-1 for the first time since 1987 and stayed in first place in the CFL East Division.
The Eskimos dropped to 5-1, but remain atop the West.
The victory came in front of a second-straight sold out crowd of 29,533 at Canad Inns Stadium.
"It's early, and I'll continue to say that …" said Pierce, who completed 20-of-27 passes for 242 yards with two TDs and one interception.
"I'll celebrate this win tonight and tomorrow, but I'll move on and I'll look at what we need to do to keep this up."
Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray, the league's top-rated passer going into the game with 10 TDs against one interception, was intercepted three times.
Ray finished 17-of-28 for 226 yards and one 22-yard TD toss to Jason Barnes.
Two of the interceptions were by Bomber cornerback Brandon Stewart, who also wasn't tooting the horn too loudly.
"I don't know if this sends a message," Stewart said.
"We just want to come out here every day when we're on the field and achieve our personal best, which is execute, run to the football, tackle the football.
"If you've got a chance to make a play, make it."
Bomber slotback Terrence Edwards notched his fifth TD of the year with a 29-yard catch in a drive aided by a face-mask penalty called on Edmonton during an earlier Edwards' reception.
Edmonton was flagged 12 times for 118 yards compared to Winnipeg's seven penalties for 70 yards.
Cory Watson scored a TD with a seven-yard catch, but he wasn't about to boast about marring Edmonton's record either.
"We haven't really done anything yet," said Watson, who had three catches for 43 yards.
"We only got two points in the standings. That's all it is. Defensively we're great, but we need to do better on offence."
Bomber kicker Justin Palardy missed his first two field-goal attempts, going wide right on a 22-yard try and then wide left on a 32-yard attempt before finally nailing a 33-yarder. Mike Renaud added two punt singles.
Aside from Barnes' TD — he finished with a game-high eight catches for 125 yards — Damon Duval booted field goals from 37 and 21 yards and had a punt single. Renaud added two points to the Esks' total when he conceded a safety.
Winnipeg's first touchdown of the game was only its 10th of the season.
It came courtesy of Pierce, who ran a career-high 48 yards into the end zone. It was also the longest run by a Bomber this season.
Did he think of sliding during the run?
"I slid quite a bit [during the game], but no, there was so much room," said Pierce, who rushed six times for 54 yards. "I was able to outrun a few linebackers and break a tackle and had some good blocks down the field, so once you get rolling that fast, I want to make sure I got into the end zone.
"But I was huffing and puffing."
The Eskimos also turned the ball over on downs and through a fumble for a total of five turnovers. Winnipeg only scored six points off those mishaps.
Through its first five games of the season, Edmonton only had a total of five turnovers.
"We just did not play fundamentally sound football," Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed said.
"We missed tackles, we dropped balls, we committed penalties."
He added it was a "learning lesson" for the squad — when they have the opportunity to keep a team down, they have to do it.
The Eskimos led 11-1 after the first quarter and 14-12 at halftime, but Winnipeg outscored them 14-2 in the third quarter to take a 26-16 lead into the final quarter.
"I got frustrated a little bit and tried to force some big plays and they got some turnovers," Ray said. "We've just got to learn from that and move on. We've just got to clean up the mistakes we're making and move on. It's a long season."
Ray was also intercepted by cornerback Jovon Johnson, leading to a single. Esks linebacker Brian Bonner fumbled and lost the ball, a gift the Bombers used for Palardy's field goal.
Ray was sacked four times, twice by Kenny Mainor and once each by Bryant Turner and Odell Willis, who has a league-leading eight sacks. Pierce was sacked once.
Edmonton defensive back Rob Williams grabbed his league-leading fourth interception of the season off a Pierce pass. The turnover led to Duval's 37-yard field goal.