Survival instinct dictates either fight or flight.
But it turns out Ricky Ray’s fleet feet inspired some added fight in the Edmonton Eskimos defence during last Saturday’s 31-28 overtime victory over the B.C. Lions.
“Ricky was running really well (Saturday). That inspires us. We’re like, ‘Hey, he wants to win,’ ” Eskimos defensive end Adam Braidwood said of the quarterback’s 135-yard rushing performance that included the game-winning touchdown. “We went out there and fought. We were making plays and so were they.
“It was like a street fight. We were just going toe-to-toe. They would score, we would score. We had to run all over the field. I was lucky enough where I got to do some substitutions.”
Both onto the field and off of it, as the Eskimos used different looks to hold Lions running back Jamal Robertson to just six yards on seven carries. The Eskimos used five D-linemen at times to help shut down the Lions ground game and hold them to under 100 rushing yards.
“Javier (Glatt) was out there, he was having a really good game,” Braidwood said of the linebacker’s three tackles and forced fumble. “We had some good defences and stuff called, we put them in some bad positions and they fought back.”
While Edmonton ended up winning the war, they certainly didn’t claim all of the individual battles.
“When it was second-and-30 and they get a first down, that kind of kills your morale,” Braidwood said of the Lions’ never-give-up approach. “They fought back, they showed last week that they can pull it off in the last minute, but you can’t get lucky every week and you can’t always come back from that kind of deficit.”
And, as they well know, the Eskimos can’t always win football games by losing the turnover battle. But that’s exactly what they got away with after giving up a fumble and two interceptions and not getting any back.
“There were a lot of turnovers, we got fortunate with a lot of the calls and stuff like that. It was one of those things that we’ve got to build off of,” said Braidwood. “We’ve got to build on that because we can’t let them get that close otherwise we’re going to limp into the playoffs.”
While the Eskimos may very well have salvaged an underwhelming 5-10 season by somehow keeping their playoff hopes alive for another week, they know the hard work is far from over.
“(Head coach) Richie (Hall) said we haven’t accomplished anything yet, we just took a step forward to where we need to be,” Braidwood said. “We’re building on something here towards the playoffs. We have a six-game series coming up, hopefully and we’ve got to take each game as seriously as we did this one.
“Everyone was talking about playoffs, this was a playoff feel. Guys were like trying to feed their family and stuff out here with this win.”