Troy Westwood struck the first chord in this whole Banjo Bowl business, so it's fitting he was front and centre in one of the biggest plays of Winnipeg's 27-24 victory yesterday. The Bombers kicker contributed a rare first down when he took an overhead flip from holder Jamie Stoddard on a fake field goal in the second quarter.
The eight-yard run led to a Bombers touchdown and 17-9 lead, while lifting the crowd and deflating the 'Riders.
The play may have looked risky but Stoddard says the two practised it all week.
"It's a completely blind throw," said Stoddard. "I don't think I've ever screwed it up."
Westwood said it was a critical play in a critical game.
"It was a huge win for us, to consider ourselves a playoff contender," Westwood said. "We're going in the right direction, no doubt about it."
It was the first time Westwood, 37, has carried the ball on a fake field goal since he scored a touchdown against the Roughriders here nine years ago.
"I don't know why they're not taking advantage of my athletic ability," Westwood said, trying to keep a straight face. "Did I look like Walter Payton running?"
FINALLY: Bombers defensive end Elfrid Payton recorded the 150th quarterback sack of his career when he brought down the 'Riders Henry Burris late in the fourth quarter.
Since Payton's last sack, he's had major knee surgery, been cut twice, switched teams and lived through a head coaching change.
"The first week of 2003, against (Montreal's Anthony) Calvillo," Payton said. "It's been a long time coming,"
Released by Edmonton twice this year, Payton joined the Bombers in July.
He needs eight sacks to become the CFL's all-time leader.
HOLMES, SWEET HOLMES: Payton wasn't thrilled with his team's defensive play in the first half, when the 'Riders amassed 244 total yards.
"They kind of moved the ball on us at will," he said.
The Bombers also allowed a 100-yard rusher for the first time in more than two years, as Corey Holmes totalled 107.
But they held Burris to 94 yards passing in the second half, and limited the 'Riders to three field goals.
ICE-PACKS AND TAPE: Aside from Keith Stokes (ankle), the Bombers lost safety Geoff Drover to a late hamstring injury, while D-lineman Doug Brown (nose) and D-back Raheem Covington (thigh) missed a few plays each.
Stokes and Drover will be evaluated further today.
Official Steve Dolyniuk, the line judge, left the game after complaining of chest pains in the second half.