Fleming to the rescue

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

If you believed the oddsmakers, there was no reason to play last night CFL fixture at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Edmonton Eskimos were prohibitive 20-point favourites going into the tilt against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Apparently nobody in the Winnipeg locker room paid any heed.

When the smoke cleared, it took a 23-yard field goal by Sean Fleming with no time on the clock to lift the Esks to a 14-12 come-from-behind win in front of 37,455 onlookers.

"I obviously didn't have a great night tonight," said Fleming, who watched Montreal's Damon Duval boot the game-winner last week. "It was nice to come through at the end.

"I was looking forward to trying to get another kick. Credit our offence for moving the ball down when we had to do it. I'm glad it ended the way it did but I'm very disappointed."

Fleming was good on four of seven field goal attempts and supplied all the Green and Gold scoring in the see-saw battle that very nearly went Winnipeg's way after Ricky Ray fumbled the ball on his two-yard line with just over two minutes to play.

Stanford Samuels scooped up the loose ball and ran it into the end zone as the Blue Bombers took a 12-11 lead.

THREE INTERCEPTIONS

"They brought cover-zero and I was going to get rid of it and it just slipped out of my hand," explained Ray, who completed 28 of 48 passes for 335 yards and threw three interceptions on the night.

"At that moment I thought, 'Man, can it get any worse?' My teammates stuck with me and gave me words of encouragement. We made the last play and that's all that matters."

Ray very nearly redeemed himself when he went deep to Jason Tucker on the next series. However, Tucker let the ball slip out of his grasp and Winnipeg's Justin Coleman recovered the loose ball.

Had the Blue Bombers been able to come up with a first down following the turnover, Fleming's last-gasp kick would have been moot.

"If we get a first down on offence, we run out the clock," observed Winnipeg head coach Jim Daley following his team's fourth straight loss.

"Our guys have shown great improvement since Day 1 of camp and our first league game versus Saskatchewan. I told the guys to be very proud of their effort but not to be satisfied with it and to build on it."

Because Winnipeg was unable to move the sticks the Bombers found themselves punting. Ray later hit slotback Derrell Mitchell with a crucial 41-yard strike to set up Fleming's kick.

"From a team standpoint, you're going to take a win anyway you can," offered Mitchell, who had seven catches for 115 yards. "We struggled all day long. We got drives going and we shot ourselves in the foot. On that last drive we just said we were going to get some plays together and get Sean in field goal range and let Sean win the game for us."

One of the bigger self-inflicted wounds came off the opening kickoff. Return man Tony Tompkins gave the Esks excellent field position with a 57-yard run back.

But after moving the ball to the Bombers' one-yard line, Ray fumbled on the quarterback sneak and LaMar McGriggs recovered for Winnipeg.

FANS ON THEIR FEET

Tompkins then had the fans on their feet with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown on the opening play of the second half. However, the TD run was nullified by an illegal block which left the Esks looking at first and goal from the five and culminated with a missed field goal by Fleming.

LATE HITS: Esks wide out Ed Hervey and cornerback Davis Sanchez each suffered leg injuries and did not finish the game. Both are scheduled to be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff.


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