WINNIPEG -- Now that builds confidence and character.
This young Edmonton Eskimo club is finally in the win column - but more importantly just gained a boatload of critical confidence.
Parlaying a stunning display of special teams and a Ricky Ray fourth-quarter touchdown drive, the Esks beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 19-15 last night in front of a sellout crowd of 29,533 at Canad Inns Stadium.
"It is huge," said Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray of the win. "It seemed like last year we played in a lot of tough ball games and maybe only won one or two of them and lost the rest of them.
"We know (now) we can rely on each other out there. We can rely on the defence stopping them and if we need to go down and score some points offensively, the defence knows we can do that, too.
"It is great for our confidence."
The Esks are now 1-1-1 to start the regular season and won in Winnipeg for just the second time this decade.
"All the changes we have made here, the turnover that we have had," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia, "and the number of injuries we had throughout the game and you are wondering if they can handle themselves out there with the shuffling around.
"We did an outstanding job on the defensive side of the ball in terms of assignment checks. We played with a lot of passion.
"I have seen a lot of happy locker-rooms but this is as happy and as excited a locker-room (I have seen) in a long time."
Every facet of the team can be happy.
The special teams units recovered two kicks/punts.
The defence notched an interception and recovered a fumble.
And all of that came in the first quarter.
Edmonton was only able to take an 11-2 lead from those four turnovers, leaving them vulnerable for a second half comeback.
On cue - like last year - Winnipeg mounted a charge in the fourth quarter, taking the lead with a 101-yard touchdown drive, capped with a five-yard pass to defensive lineman Jon Oosterhuis.
But unlike last year, the Esks put together a game-winning fourth quarter drive by marching 82 yards on the very next series.
With all-star left guard Dan Comiskey on the bench with a torn left calf, the revamped O-line - with Rhett McLane subbing - opened enough of a hole for Ron McClendon to romp 47 yards.
"We were playing pretty bad offensively in the middle part of the game - two and outs it seemed like every time," explained Ray, who finished with just 214 yards passing.
"We had got stuffed with our giants formation the first two games. We hadn't been very effective with it.
"To break off that run really set (us) up to score that touchdown at the end."
MR. COMPLETERSON NOW
And in ironic fashion, it was Kamau Peterson - a.k.a. Kamau Incompleterson to the sour Bomber faithful - who made the nine-yard game-winning touchdown catch to make it 19-15.
"I am not going to lie, that was fun," said Peterson, who was traded out of this city because of his poor play in 2005. "I had to restrain myself quite a bit (in celebrating)."