By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — The previously undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers ran into a defensive roadblock Thursday night as the still undefeated Edmonton Eskimos handed the home team their hat along with a 26-3 defeat in front of 2014’s largest football crowd at Investors Group Field — 30,976.
The Bombers struggled offensively in their first game against a West Division opponent, going two-and-out a total of 10 times, and only accumulating 209 yards of offence.
“It wasn’t good. Edmonton came in here and kicked our butts,” said Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea following the game. “It’s pretty easy to see that. I thought their defence played really well. They were getting good pressure. They pick a ball off pretty opportunistic early on and score a touchdown. It was a defensive struggle, I’d say, through the better part of three quarters.”
Pinned deep in their own end early in the opening quarter, Drew Willy targeted running back Nic Grigsby with a swing pass that was bobbled and then intercepted and returned 17 yards for a touchdown by former Blue Bomber Odell Willis. The early 7-0 lead was all Edmonton needed to hold off Winnipeg on this night.
“Obviously, we never got a rhythm going,” said Bombers quarterback Drew Willy, who finished his night 14-of-27 passing for 180 yards and an interception. “We left our defence out there. They played really well. Anytime you don’t possess the ball very much it’s tough to put points on the board and give your defence a rest.”
The Blue Bombers defence was relatively solid, considering how much they were on the field. Edmonton dominated the time of possession by a nearly 2:1 margin.
“This is a war. This whole season is a war. We lost one battle,” said veteran defensive lineman Bryant Turner. “I’m sure down the (road) the defence is going to be needing the offence to bail us out. It’s a team game. We’ve got to come together and make it happen.”
The 3-1 Blue Bombers look to get back on track in Week 5 as they travel to Vancouver for another West Division matchup on Friday, July 25 against the B.C. Lions.