Both teams were coming in off of wins and were hungry to keep their streaks alive. The Bombers came in off of a sloppy, but still huge win in Hamilton last week while the Eskimos came in off of an emotional win against Saskatchewan.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were able to secure points on their first drive of the game, a 43-yard field goal off of the foot of Justin Medlock to give Winnipeg an early 3-0 lead.
When it came time for the Eskimos to get the ball in the first quarter, they were not able to score any points on any of their possessions, and Winnipeg’s 3-0 lead held through the first quarter. Mike Reilly was already showing signs of the great night ahead, with only one incomplete pass in the quarter.
The teams were still playing to a 3-0 score when an Edmonton punt sailed into the hands of Winnipeg’s Kevin Fogg, who went on a spectacular 94-yard punt return and took it all the way to the house for what could have been a 9-0 Winnipeg lead. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, a late facemask penalty by defensive end Shayon Green took the touchdown off of the scoreboard.
Winnipeg was still in great field position to begin their drive and Drew Willy found Rory Kolhert for a 20-yard touchdown strike to give the Bombers a 10-0, after the convert by Medlock.
The Eskimos were a team not to be denied on this night though, and they finally broke through the Edmonton defense when Mike Reilly uncorked a cannon 60-yard pass to Adarius Bowman to put the Eskimos in great field position. Edmonton looked to have gotten into the end zone when Mike Reilly found Cory Watson in the end zone soon after however Chris Getzlaf was offside on the play. But yet another touchdown was taken off the board and Edmonton had to settle for a field goal, which Winnipeg responded to with one of their own to bring it to a 13-3 scoreline.
Nearing the end of the first half, the Eskimos were hungry for a major score and drove furiously towards the Winnipeg end zone as the half was expiring. With only three seconds left and on a huge third down gamble, Mike Reilly threw a clutch touchdown pass to Corey Watson and after the convert Edmonton only trailed 13-10 at halftime.
Mike Reilly continued his hot passing into the third quarter as he was able to put his team in field position to kick the game tying field goal and make it 13-13.
Late in the third however, one of his rare blemishes of the night happened. Reilly’s pass, intended for Adarius Bowman, was tipped out of his hands as a charging Julian Posey came in and tipped the ball away from Bowman. The ball flew into the air and back to himself for an impressive interception. Winnipeg was able to turn this into a field goal that gave them the lead at 16-13 going into the fourth quarter.
Early on in the fourth and Reilly was showing his great arm again. He found Derel Walker on a beautiful 74-yard catch and run play which gave Edmonton the lead in sensational fashion. After the convert the score was 20-16 to Edmonton.
The Edmonton defense locked it down late, with Odell Willis even getting in on the fun, sacking Drew Willy with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. The 20-16 score line would eventually stand to give the defending champions their second win of the season.
This was a huge comeback win for the now 2-1 Eskimos as they never gave up, a trait they displayed all last season en route to a Grey Cup win. The story of the night by far was Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly who threw for a staggering 465 yards and two touchdowns, one interception and a passing percentage of 71%.
The Blue Bombers will now be in hot water again as they drop to 1-3 on the season, and questions will begin to swirl around head coach Mike O’Shea. The Blue Bombers must find a way to respond in their next game or they risk having those questions grow even larger. Winnipeg has lost seven straight games to the Edmonton Eskimos. Drew Willy threw for 266 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions with a passing percentage of 66%.
The Eskimos will welcome the Tiger-Cats to town next week with a Week 5 match-up on July 23 at 7:00pm EST while the Blue Bombers will play again on July 21 at 8:30pm EST.