The Edmonton Eskimos’ season has been bad, but at least they prevented it from being history book bad.
Fred Stamps reeled in a pair of touchdown passes as the Eskimos snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 25-7 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.
Edmonton (2-9) won for their first time at Commonwealth Stadium this season, avoiding a new team record for consecutive losses at home in a game between the CFL’s two worst teams that had been dubbed the Toilet Bowl.
The Eskimos also avoided tying records for most losses in a row at nine set in 1963 and for the worst start to a season set in 1971.
“We’ve been so close so many times, only to fall short,” said Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly, who threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 113 yards.
“You can’t help but start to wonder if it is ever going to happen. To finally come out and put together a good performance and be in control of the game for pretty much all four quarters was a nice change-up. We still have a lot to improve on though.”
Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt hopes that finally getting a win may lead the team in the other direction.
“Luckily we got all the bad out early,” he said. “There is a lot of season to be played and I think everyone who watches the CFL knows how weird it can get. We just have to keep this going now.”
The Blue Bombers dropped to 2-9 and continued to struggle trying to capture back-to-back wins, having gone more than two years since the last time they were able to.
“It was a comedy of errors,” said Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke. “We had way too many turnovers. I think our calls on defence didn’t help our players out and I am just as much to blame for that. We just did dumb things all throughout the game.”
Edmonton caught a big break early in the game as it appeared that Bomber Demond Washington had scored a 77-yard punt return touchdown after the Eskimos went three-and-out on their opening drive. However, the play came back on a holding penalty.
The penalty proved even more pivotal two plays later as Winnipeg starting quarterback Justin Goltz had the ball pop loose after a hit by Donovan Alexander and J.C. Sherritt scooped it up at the Edmonton 51.
The Eskimos quickly marched down field and scored on an eight-yard passing play from Reilly to Stamps. It was the first time that Edmonton scored a first-quarter touchdown since their Week 2 victory over Hamilton.
The Eskimos added a 25-yard Hugh O’Neill field goal with four minute left in the opening frame to lead 10-0.
Edmonton’s defence came up big again with three minutes remaining in the first as Chris Rwabukamba picked off a Goltz pass at the Eskimo 51-yard-line. The interception eventually set up a 16-yard TD reception by Adarius Bowman.
Edmonton led 17-0 at the end of a first quarter that saw Goltz and the Bombers record negative two passing yards.
The second quarter had a much more sedate start as Winnipeg put their first points on the board, as Sandro DeAngelis kicked a 17-yard field goal with two minutes left to make it 17-3.
However, the Eskimos quickly countered one minute later as a 45-yard QB keeper by Reilly set up a 25-yard pass into the end zone for Stamps’ second touchdown on the game and a 24-3 Edmonton lead at the half.
Max Hall came into quarterback the Bombers to start the third and briefly sparked the offence before being intercepted in the end zone by Edmonton defensive back Chris Thompson.
Winnipeg had a single on a missed field-goal attempt late in the third quarter to make it 24-4.
The Eskimos had a punt single early in the fourth before Winnipeg countered with a field goal.
The game wound down with an incredibly odd play. The Bombers tried a third down gamble deep in Edmonton territory but the snap was nowhere near the quarterback and the charging Edmonton defenders kicked it down the field.
Marcus Howard picked it up and then threw it over his head to Eric Samuels, who looked to have scored a touchdown. The play was called back on an interference call, although Edmonton got possession and was able to run out the clock.
The mistake still irked Burke.
“I don’t know why we snapped the ball when we did it,” he said. “It was just different things like that all throughout the game that cost us.”
The two teams will face each other in a rematch on Friday in Winnipeg.
Notes: The Esks and Bombers have split the last five season series. No team has swept the series since 2006 ... Winnipeg was coming off an emotional 25-13 victory over league-leading Saskatchewan ... Reilly entered the game with a 2-10 record in career CFL starts and was facing Winnipeg for first time ... Edmonton had a ton of players return to action for the game, as middle linebacker J.C. Sherritt, defensive ends Odell Willis and Brandon Lang, tailback Hugh Charles and safety Donovan Alexander came back from injuries ... It was the Bombers first game since the trade of veteran quarterback Buck Pierce to the Lions in exchange for Canadian receiver Akeem Foster ... Esks offensive lineman Simeon Rottier, who was called out by general manager Ed Hervey for his poor play in the Labour Day loss to Calgary, returned to the Edmonton lineup ... Winnipeg failed in its attempt to capture its 600th victory in franchise history (599-550-14) and to join Edmonton as the only two clubs to make it to that plateau.