Esks breathing whole lot easier

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos can breath a little easier now.

Although they're still a long ways away from where they want to be, snapping a three-game losing skid on Friday, with a 24-18 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was big for the club.

It was also big for head coach Danny Maciocia.

"I think from a confidence perspective, a person feels good coming into work the next day after a win," Maciocia said yesterday.

"It was a big win, especially to do it the way we did it with so many young guys in the lineup. They really stepped it up and were able to get the job done."

The win lifted the Esks into a tie with the 'Riders for the final playoff spot in the West Division.

It also turned down some of the heat the Eskimos and their coaching staff were feeling after starting the season at 2-5.

"The pressure comes from playing here," Maciocia said. "That's always going to be the case here in Edmonton. But it's good for the players to see that the hard work they put in all week paid off. Now they'll start the week getting ready for the next game with a little spring in their step."

Not only did the Eskimos manage to win the game, but they also escaped the contest without any major injuries. That's a big factor going into Friday's game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.

The Esks also got a few breaks - something they didn't see much of during their losing skid.

"When Jason Armstead fumbles the ball on the second play of the game, and we have 11 guys around it, and they have one and somehow they recover, you think it's going to be one of those games," Maciocia said.

"But we were able to get some breaks and make some plays."

Arguably the biggest play came from veteran defensive back Gerald Dixon, who intercepted a Kerry Joseph pass in the second quarter and took it back 72 yards for a touchdown. The play gave the Esks the lead and some momentum back.

"That was a great play," Maciocia said. "He practically ripped the ball out of the receiver's hands and took it back the other way."


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