EDMONTON - They were a physical couple of points the Edmonton Eskimos earned in last Friday's 26-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts.
Despite sitting in the East Division's last place, the Argos defence took a bite out of Ricky Ray, who was sacked twice and forced to fumble.
But what the stats sheet doesn't show is how much pressure the league's leading quarterback felt throughout the game.
"They got after us a little bit. That's what they try and do, they try and play a lot of coverage and get after you with their upfront guys. And they've got some pretty good guys," said Ray, who didn't throw Monday and wore a compression sleeve on his right leg at Tuesday's practice. "That was probably our sloppiest game so far as far as turnovers and miscommunication out there and just not getting into a rhythm."
While Ray still managed to complete 70% of his 34 passes for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns, he was charged with a fumble along with running back Arkee Whitlock, who was released on the weekend. But the Eskimos still came out ahead with two fumble recoveries of their own and two interceptions to stay tied for the league lead with a plus-11 giveaway-takeaway ratio with this week's opponent, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
While the Bombers lead the East with a 4-1 record, the Argonauts are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but Ray said it won't get any easier this Friday against the league-leading sack artists.
"It's going to be really similar to last week, their front is pretty darn good," said Ray, whose offensive line is in a three-way tie with Montreal and Saskatchewan for allowing the fewest sacks at six on the season. "They've got some guys that can really get after the quarterback. Very physical, fast, athletic guys.
"They're one of the better defences in the league, so it's going to be a really tough challenge for us."
The key for Ray will be a quick release.
"You want to understand that those guys are coming and you want to make good decisions, get the ball out," said Ray. "Try not to make a play out of nothing. If they've got you, live to play another down. Just protect the football and they're going to win a few plays."
At least now the Eskimos know they have what it takes to come from behind in a game, after only trailing by three points for just under 90 seconds all season before last Friday.
"I think sometimes you just have those games throughout the course of a year and you've just got to find a way to battle through those times," said Ray, whose squad trailed by 16 points in the second quarter. before outscoring Toronto 25-8 the rest of the way. "Fortunately for us, our defence kept us in the game. Getting those two scores before halftime really helped us out. We just kept battling and gave ourselves a chance at the end.
"Those are the kind of wins where you look back and say, ĎYou know what? Whatever situation we're in, we can still battle back and give ourselves a chance to win.' "
IN AND OUT: SBs Fred Stamps and Jason Barnes returned to practice after sitting out to rest on Monday. Newcomer WR Reggie McNeal lined up at wideout for Brandon James, who will concentrate on kick and punt returns. The Eskimos released DL Almondo Sewell, who had one tackle in three games in his first stint in the CFL.