By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Matt Nichols knew rainy weather called for extra concentration handling a slippery football.
The quarterback didn’t have too much of a problem, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 29-9 on Friday.
Nichols completed 23-of-34 pass attempts but had one fumble that was originally ruled an interception, a ball that slipped out of his hand behind him during a throw.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge,” Nichols said of the weather, which delayed the game’s start by 20 minutes and included intermittent downpours throughout the contest.
“You’ve just got to focus in on your fundamentals and make sure you have a good grip on the ball. Obviously, one got away from me a little bit.”
It was Winnipeg’s fifth straight victory at Investors Group Field this season, boosting its record to 9-3 in front of an announced crowd of 26,588. That keeps the Bombers in second place in the CFL West Division, three points behind Calgary.
The East Division-leading Redblacks (5-8-1) produced their lowest point total of their season with third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley at the helm.
Suiting up in place of injured backup Drew Tate and injured starter Trevor Harris, Lindley was 16-of-36 for 151 yards with no TDs and one pick.
He wasn’t blaming the wind and the rain.
“It’s an even playing field,” Lindley said. “God doesn’t turn the sprinklers off when Winnipeg goes out on offence so we’ve both got to deal with it.
“Obviously, they figured it out. I don’t think that affected us as much as other stuff.”
That other stuff was poor play, the former NFLer said.
“It was crap. I didn’t play well,” Lindley, 28, said. “There were times I didn’t put the ball in the right spots, obviously, to put it generally.”
Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell said all three phases of his team didn’t step up.
As for the team’s quarterback situation, Campbell said he’s optimistic Tate may be ready to play Ottawa’s next game against Saskatchewan, but he’ll know more Monday after further assessment of Tate’s shoulder.
Winnipeg got touchdowns from Andrew Harris, Timothy Flanders and Darvin Adams.
Adams had a 75-yard catch-and-run major in the fourth quarter, hauling in seven receptions for a career-high 195 yards.
“It feels good to score, but it feels better to win,” said Adams, who had an earlier TD wiped out by a Winnipeg penalty.
Harris sprinted 24 yards over the goal line late in the second quarter. He had 11 carries for 83 yards and 49 yards receiving.
Flanders, now being used as a slotback and running back, caught a four-yard pass then barrelled his way through defenders into the end zone. He finished with 28 yards receiving and 55 rushing.
Harris and Adams’ touchdowns came off Ottawa turnovers.
Justin Medlock booted field goals of 27, 36 and 25 yards for Winnipeg. One of his converts was fumbled and another was good.
William Powell scored Ottawa’s lone TD on an 11-yard run with five minutes left in the game, the first time in the game the Redblacks made it into the red zone. He finished with 14 carries for 107 yards.
Ottawa kicker Brett Maher had punt singles of 65 and 70 yards and added another single when he went wide left on a 46-yard field-goal attempt.
Winnipeg led 3-1 after the first quarter and 16-2 at the half.
Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat forced Powell to fumble and recovered the ball, leading to Harris’s fifth rushing TD of the season at 12:59 of the second.
Winnipeg receiver Weston Dressler left the game in the second quarter with an upper-body injury and there was no update.
A 22-yard run by Harris helped set up Flanders’ TD at 6:36 of the third. The convert attempt was fumbled, giving the Bombers a 22-2 lead.
Ottawa finally drove deep to Winnipeg’s 25-yard line three minutes in the fourth quarter, but Lindley fumbled and the ball was recovered by Bombers defensive back/linebacker Maurice Leggett.
Winnipeg took over at its own 23 and Nichols quickly hit Adams with a long bomb he turned into his sixth TD of the season at 4:20.
After Powell’s TD, Ottawa recovered an onside kick, but Lindley was intercepted by Leggett.
Winnipeg had 521 yards of net offence compared to Ottawa’s 266.