New colours, same story

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Does this story sound familiar? A CFL club with a tremendous defensive effort gets let down by the boys on the opposite side of the ball.

The Calgary Stampeders, right?

Wrong.

This time it's the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who can't get anything done to reward their defence's stellar play.

The Bombers picked off Ricky Ray three times and forced a trio of fumbles Friday night in a 14-12 loss in Edmonton. The Eskimos' league-leading offence was held to field-goal attempts instead of touchdowns.

Winnipeg's defensive unit also created the game's only touchdown by stripping Ray as Stanford Samuels picked up the loose pigskin and ran in for a score.

The killer was near the end of the contest and all Tee Martin and the offence needed to do was get a first down and run the clock down for a win. They couldn't and the Eskimos escaped with a last-second field goal to win it.

Omar Evans is just one of 10 former Stamps facing a dismal year in Winnipeg like the last couple in Calgary. So already the defensive back is bringing out the cliches about how they won't jump on the offence's back, no matter what they might be thinking after not allowing a touchdown in back-to-back losses.

"It's a team game, you're not going to get me that easy," Evans told the Jim Bender of the Winnipeg Sun.

Head coach Jim Daley, who was the Stamps defensive co-ordinator in 2003, won't blame his offence for the losses, either.

"I don't think that's the way a professional looks at it," Daley told the Sun. "First, they didn't let the defence down. Our productivity as a team lets the team down when you lose.

"If a particular unit doesn't play well enough, they are aware of it, frustrated by it and disappointed in it. They don't need to add guilt to it by saying they let the other side down."

It's shaping up to be a long season in the 'Peg.

OPENING DRIVE: The CFL may be a passing league but the pivots are getting it done with their feet this season. The top three players in terms of rushing average with more than one attempt are all QBs. Montreal's Anthony Calvillo leads the group with a 7.7-yard average, followed by Ottawa's Kerry Joseph and B.C.'s Dave Dickenson. Curiously, the second-worst in this category is Saskatchewan's Nealon Greene, who has a 4.2-yard average, although he leads in attempts ... The Renegades tried some trickery on offence this week, thanks to a plan by offensive co-ordinator Tommy Condell. The 'Gades huddled up on the sidelines several times in a win over Calgary, then ran out onto the field into motion. The move didn't allow the Stamps to assess personnel and caught the defence off-guard ... If he wasn't so religious, Danny Barrett should have headed to Casino Regina after Sunday's win over Hamilton. The 'Riders head coach proved to be quite the gambler in a scoring drive in the second half. Twice Barrett went for it with a long yard to go on third down and also took a field goal off the board when the Tiger-Cats jumped offside. Barrett's confidence in his short yardage team paid off with a tide-turning TD ... There's plenty of blame being hurled Danny McManus' way in Hamilton but the passing game isn't the only problem. What has happened to 2004's leading rusher Troy Davis? The running back has 103 yards in three games for a measly 3.2-yard average.

That sounds like one normal outing for Davis.

ENDZONE TOSS: If Corey Holmes keeps this up, an impressive CFL record could fall this season. The Roughriders' jack-of-all-trades has 797 all-purpose yards, putting him on pace to break Michael (Pinball) Clemons' record of 3,300 all-purpose yards in a season ... Although Edmonton's Derrell (Mookie) Mitchell has 29 receptions in four games, he's still way off his record pace of 1998, when he recorded an amazing 160 catches for the Argonauts. Mitchell is on pace for 130 grabs this season, which would be second all-time ... Hamilton GM Ron Lancaster was complaining last week about the schedule and taking a bye week early in the season. It's a good thing he's not employed by Toronto. The Argos are off this week, then come back to play the following Thursday at Montreal after a 12-day break. The Argos get three days off, then host Winnipeg, followed by another 11-day break ... Week 4 highs: Rushing, Josh Ranek, 164 yards vs. Calgary; receiving, Geroy Simon, 140 yards vs. Toronto; passing, Dave Dickenson, 362 yards vs. Toronto ... Ottawa DE Kai Ellis didn't last long against the Stamps Saturday when he left with an ankle injury, prompting coach Joe Paopao to quip: "Darn it, we'll have to bring back that five-sack guy," referring to Anthony Collier, who set a team record the previous week against B.C. but was sitting for Ellis.

EXTRA POINTS: The new turf at B.C. Place is certainly tough on opponents. The Lions have won nine straight at home dating back to July 9, 2004 against Edmonton ... Quick stat, CFL interceptions-thrown leader: Edmonton's Ricky Ray. It's obvious when you see he's thrown 176 passes in four games, so six into the arms of opponents isn't too bad ... To say placekickers have been erratic this season would be an understatement. The only kicker with a field-goal average above 80% is Calgary rookie Sandro DeAngelis. Veterans Sean Fleming (64%), Troy Westwood (56%), Duncan O'Mahony (60%) and Paul McCallum (57%) are all struggling ... Renegades WR Markus Howell must be smiling these days. The Canadian was used in the defensive backfield last season in Winnipeg but is getting a chance to catch passes from Kerry Joseph this season. Howell has eight grabs for 149 yards for a 18.6-yard average ... Fans at Frank Clair Stadium might be shortchanged this week. Edmonton WR Ed Hervey might not play due to injury and the Ottawa fans would love to boo him for his signing debacle in the off-season.

101

The amount of first downs the Saskatchewan Roughriders have earned this season in four games. The 'Riders have rushed the ball an astounding 130 times for 640 yards, which has given them a time-of-possession advantage in all four games.

ON THE FIELD

THURSDAY

Edmonton at Ottawa, 5:30 p.m. (TSN)

FRIDAY

Montreal at Winnipeg, 6:30 p.m. (TSN)

SATURDAY

B.C. at Hamilton, 5 p.m. (CBC)

Saskatchewan at Calgary, 8 p.m. (TSN, subject to blackout)

BYE: Toronto

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

"Four years I've been here and all I ever hear is how the defensive line sucks. When is it going to stop? We're not going to get pressure every play but we're getting to the quarterback with a three-man rush. We swept Toronto, the champions."

-- B.C. Lions DE Tyrone Williams told a Vancouver newspaper after B.C.'s defence sacked Damon Allen eight times Friday.


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