Nichols, Harris, Adams Lead Bombers Past Ottawa
WINNIPEG, MB – Despite occasional sheets of rain and an entire evening of cold, damp weather, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers embarrassed the defending Grey Cup champion Ottawa RedBlacks on Friday night.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Ryan Lindley played quarterback for the RedBlacks. Man, was he awful.
While Lindley made the Bombers defensive secondary look better than it has all season, Matt Nichols threw two touchdown passes, Darvin Adams caught one of them and had 193 yards receiving and Andrew Harris ran wild again as the Bombers blasted Ottawa 29-9.
The game started rather slowly as rain pelted Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field. The Bombers led 3-1 on a Justin Medlock field goal after the first quarter.
However, Winnipeg took a 16-2 halftime lead, built it 22-3 after three quarters and led 29-3 before giving up a late, meaningless touchdown to the visitors. Until the fourth quarter, the RedBlacks could manage only three singles.
Despite the weather, Nichols was solid for the Bombers, completing 23-of-34 pass attempts for 319 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as Winnipeg improved to 9-3-0. The Bombers have won two straight games, five straight at home and seven of their last eight.
“I think that everyone is just buying into what the coaches are peaching and everyone joust goes out and does their job and makes plays when they come their way,” said Nichols. “All three phases are firing right now and this is the time of the season when you want to be peaking.
“We were able to handle some elements tonight. We came out and played a good game and we’re happy to get this win against a good football team.”
Meanwhile, Harris was brilliant again. He carried 11 times for 83 yards and a 24-yard touchdown gallop and also caught six passes for 49 more yards. In 12 games this season, Harris has carried 132 times for 739 yards, second in the CFL to Calgary’s Jerome Messam, as two Canadians are the top rushers in the league.
Bombers wideout Darvin Adams caught seven passes for 193 yards and a 75-yard touchdown – the Bombers’ final touchdown of the game. Adams is now fourth in receiving in the CFL with 961 yards.
Winnipeg’s “other” runningback, Timothy Flanders, carried seven times for 55 yards and caught five passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. Winnipeg was able to move the football virtually at will and probably should have scored more than 29 points.
Medlock finished the game with three field goals on three attempts.
With both Trevor Harris and Drew Tate sidelined by injuries, the RedBlacks went out and got Lindley, a 28-year-old former NFLer who was actually 1-6-0 as an NFL starting quarterback. He’s now 0-1-0 as a CFL starter after going 16-for-36 for 151 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. His longest completion was 15 yards. If it wasn’t for the fact William Powell rushed for 107 yards, the RedBlacks might not have had any offence at all.
In the end Ottawa finished with 266 total yards of offence to Winnipeg’s dominant 553. Ottawa also had 10 penalties for 102 yards. Winnipeg had six for 61.
The Bombers were quite clearly the better football team and now the team that’s second in the West has a shot at making a legitimate run at a Grey Cup this year. Granted, it’s going to be tough to knock off Calgary, but this year’s edition of the Bombers is playing as well as it has in more than two decades.
Winnipeg will get a test next weekend. On Saturday night. Sept. 30, the Bombers will face the Eskimos in Edmonton. It’s on TSN at 8:30 p.m.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photos by Jeff Miller