It will go down as just one victory and two points, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers believe their Banjo Bowl beatdown of the Saskatchewan Roughriders will end up being way more valuable than that.
The Bombers halted a five-game losing streak, their longest in 11 years, with a 31-2 cold-cocking of the Green and White in front of a vocal, sellout crowd of 29,833 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium.
"Guys are starting to understand the little things that it takes to win," Bomber quarterback Steven Jyles said in a jubilant locker-room. "As long as we keep doing what we do, and keep being productive on offence and defence, we're going to be a hard team to beat."
"This is the beginning of our turnaround of our season," added cornerback Jovon Johnson. "This is going to be the turning point."
Pretty big talk from a squad that improved to only 3-7, but their performance on Sunday -- especially from the defence -- just might be worthy of such chatter.
The last time the Bombers allowed two points or fewer at home was in a 46-1 drubbing of the Ottawa Rough Riders on Aug. 17, 1994. The last time they held the opposition to fewer than 180 yards of net offence in any game, like they did on Sunday, was more than three years ago.
"It's huge for our confidence, not because we haven't won for so long, but it's one of the top offences in the CFL and the top three teams in the whole league," defensive tackle Doug Brown said.
"To put on that kind of performance, we've taken one part of the equation out of it now. We've dominated at home, but part two of the equation is we gotta take it on the road and put forth the same kind of effort."
The Bombers, who led 10-0 after the first quarter and 24-1 at the half, improved to 3-2 at home but are 0-5 on the road and have lost six straight away from Winnipeg dating back to last season. The Blue and Gold venture to Toronto next Sunday to take on the Argonauts at Rogers Centre.
It will be a critical tilt, too, as the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats both lost on Saturday to fall to 5-5, which means the Bombers are just four points back of second in the East Division.
It wasn't only the defence that shone for the hosts on Sunday. Tailback Fred Reid had touchdown runs of 61 and eight yards, and he finished with 148 yards on 17 carries. It was the first time this season the Roughriders (6-4) have allowed a 100-yard rusher.
It was sweet revenge for Reid, who was held to only 43 yards by ex-teammate Barrin Simpson in last Sunday's 27-23 Labour Day Classic loss to the Riders in Regina.
"Last week he got the better of me so I had to come back and get him this week," said Reid, who missed two practices last week due to the flu.
Jyles, who was making his first start since Buck Pierce went down with a dislocated elbow, hit Chris Davis on a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown, and backup Alex Brink scored on a one-yard plunge. Justin Palardy had a 38-yard field goal.
Jyles wasn't flashy in his first start against his former team, but he took care of the football. He completed 19 of 23 attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. And unlike his last start, in Montreal on Aug. 19, he had no fumbles.
"We had a great team win," Jyles said, "and I'm excited about that because I told the guys if we keep playing like that we'll go a long ways this season."
Saskatchewan got singles off an Eddie Johnson punt in the second quarter and Luca Congi's 33-yard missed field goal in the third.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant completed only 19 of 35 attempts for 168 yards and one interception. Wes Cates had just 18 yards on eight carries.
The Bombers, who didn't commit a turnover, also ended a six-game losing streak against their arch rivals that dated back to the 2007 Banjo Bowl.
"It is important," Brown said. "It's like losing to your big brother for three years straight, man. It gets annoying. We finally went through puberty and we got a little bigger, and he stopped picking on us."