Proving a point

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

Did the real Edmonton Eskimos just stand up?

Can we now consider Danny Maciocia's outfit finally committing to be a reach for the top team?

Or have we seen this before? Should we reserve judgement until we see more?

We watched this before, a month back, when the Eskimos found their 'A' game for a big win against the Montreal Alouettes.

But this one looked more like a statement.

This looked more like an announcement.

While the storyline around the league will be that that Double-E ended the undefeated streak of the B.C. Lions at 11 straight with a 37-20 win before 48,048 at Commonwealth Stadium last night, ending the Lions streak wasn't as important to this team as proving a point to themselves.

Not that knocking off a team which had won 14 consecutive regular-season games wrapping around to last year didn't mean anything.

"If that's not instant credibility, I don't know what is,'' said Maciocia. "When you think what we just went through ... people started thinking we're not good.''

STRONG HINT OF RUNNING GAME

Last night there was at least a strong hint of a running game. Last night there was blocking.

There were still flaws, like too many men on the field on defence and a big turnover on a ball in the hands of Kwame Cavil. There were a number of B.C. receivers left completely uncovered. "We can actually play better,'' said Maciocia. "Overall this one ranks with the game against Montreal.

But he'll take it.

"The guys really played hard. The team showed up and played with intentional, emotional and pride. This is a proud group here.''

Amazing what can happen when this team gets their helmets screwed on straight.

The Eskimos took only 44 yards of penalties. Hello. Ricky Ray handed off for 80 yards of rushing and had time to set up and go 26 for 33 and won't be so sore this morning.

"When we play like we're capable of playing, we can beat anybody,'' said Ray.

"We mixed up our offence pretty well the last two games and today we really kept their defence off balance. It's great to get a running game going,'' he said of Ron McLendon being joined by Dahrran Diedrick and some different looks.

"They had to earn everything,'' said the QB who was stuck with a one-dimensional offence for the middle third of the season.

"It was a big win for us. We had to win that game. No matter where you looked tonight, everybody did their job. Guys played with a lot of emotion. We needed this. The last two games were not good for us.

"Now we need to use this to jump-start us the rest of the season.''

Maciocia said the build-up to the game, the focus on the game and 48,048 fans showing up played a big part. His players didn't disagree.

One group for sure, tried to play a perfect game to prove a point that assistant coach Malvin Hunter was not the reason for their flawed play but instead seriously second-rate judgment by some scribe.

The one play people will remember most from this game was when the Lions tied it up 20-20 after being down by more than 10 for the first time this year. Tiny Tompkins returned the kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.

"That was Malvin Hunter's design. That was the play of the game and maybe the play of the year and he designed that,'' said Tim Flesizer, searching out the critic to make a point on behalf of his special team mates.

So quoted. So noted.

Nobody is going to go ga-ga over Sean Fleming making 21-yard and 13-yard field goals. But this didn't turn out to be a fourth loss caused in part this season by a kicker.

ALL POSITIVES

No, this was all positives.

"It was a different emotional level,'' said Bruce Beaton, who reads a dressing room and a team as well as anybody in the league.

"That's a tough team to beat. They took everything the crowd had and everything we had. The difference is that we needed it more and wanted it more than they did tonight. We were feeling the heat.''

The win moved the Eskimos to 8-5, two points ahead of both Saskatchewan and Calgary.

"This win meant more in terms of confidence than in terms of the standings,'' said Beaton. "The games against Calgary and Saskatchewan would have meant more in the standings.''

Joe Montford said the real Eskimos stood up. And from now until they show up in Vancouver for the Western Final, they'll stay standing.

"We lost two games to Calgary and Saskatchewan we should have won. We lost them because we didn't take care of details.

"We lost them because we slacked off on the job. Tonight we didn't slack off. We took pride.

"We're going to come to take the same attitude the rest of the season now. We're going to finish out the season winning.''

You gotta want it. Last night they did.


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