Esks sad about sacks

Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback Ricky Ray is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Joe Lobendahn (L),...

Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback Ricky Ray is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Joe Lobendahn (L), Kenny Mainor (back C) and Odell Willis (R) during the second half of their CFL game in Winnipeg August 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:12 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had it in the bag.

Make that a sack.

The Edmonton Eskimo gave up their highest sack tally of the season, allowing the CFL’s sack-leading defence to get to Ricky Ray four times behind the line of scrimmage in last Friday’s 28-16 loss.

Coming into the game tied for allowing a league-low six sacks — alongside this week’s opponents, the Montreal Alouettes — the Eskimos gave up four to the Bombers, including a pair in a late drive to thwart any chance of a comeback.

“They’ve got some good players,” said Ray. “They’re able to get after the quarterback not bringing a lot of pressure. That is big in this league.

“We’ve just got to do a better job as quarterbacks getting rid of the ball, making better decisions and trying to keep them off-balance.”

Led by defensive end Odell Willis, who got his league-leading eighth sack on Ray, the Bombers mproved their total to 25 helmet stickers on the season, averaging 4.2 per game.

Edmonton’s protection has been a big part of the team’s turnaround in 2011, after allowing an average of 2.28 sacks per game last season.

“It was pretty good for the most part, I thought,” said centre Aaron Fiacconi, who anchors an Eskimos offensive line that allowed just one sack in each of their four games to start the season and are currently averaging 1.67 per game. “Being on the field, guys battled all night. We got into a position where we were behind, we had to throw the ball a lot more and they came after us in the fourth quarter there.

“Call it what you want, there was a lot of pressure but I think we held up.”

Trailing 26-16 going into the fourth quarter, the Eskimos offence found itself one-dimensional, needing big yards through the air quickly.

“When we got behind to where we just put the run game away and started chucking, then it became a little tough,” said Eskimos O-line coach Tim Prinsen. “That front four is going to be tough on anybody in that circumstance. We can’t hear a snap count, we have to go on silent count.

“Not to make excuses, we still have to block them, but it’s a tough situation to be in. Against a really fierce front four, to be honest, we held up really well.”

As has been the case all season for a unit that has turned things around after taking heat for not pulling its weight throughout much of last season.

“I’m proud of this football team for the first six weeks,” Fiacconi said. “It’s a good showing.”

LEADER BOARD: Eskimos DB Chris Thompson leads the CFL with four forced fumbles after Week 6, while linebacker Mike Miller surpassed teammate Corbin Sharun in special-teams tackles. Miller is in the lead with 11, while Sharun sits second with 10 ... Eskimos CB Rod Williams intercepted Buck Pierce for a league-high four interceptions to remain one ahead of Bombers CB Brandon Stewary, who intercepted Ray twice this week ... SB Fred Stamps leads the league with 619 receiving yards on 33 catches, but will miss the next four to six weeks following abdominal surgery.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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