Blue struggle off Tee

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

It wasn't as ugly as Week 1, but it was nowhere near pretty.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with quarterback Tee Martin making his first CFL start, put up a stronger effort last night but still fell 27-8 to the Edmonton Eskimos in their home opener before a sparse gathering of 22,087 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium.

ESKIMOS 27 BOMBERS 8

The Bombers, who were hammered 42-15 by the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week in Regina, fell to 0-2, while the Eskimos, who got a whopping 469 passing yards from quarterback Ricky Ray, improved to 2-0.

"I thought the effort was very, very good," Bombers head coach Jim Daley said. "It's hard for people to perceive it that way when they're watching it and seeing the score, but the effort of our players was very, very good."

Winnipeg's next game is Thursday at the Stadium against the Calgary Stampeders, who play their first game of the season tonight against the Toronto Argonauts.

There was a scary moment with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. Eskimos cornerback Davis Sanchez hit Bombers slotback Milt Stegall from behind just before a pass arrived. Stegall's face hit the turf, and he appeared to lose consciousness.

Stegall, who's been Winnipeg's best player this season, walked off under his own power, but it's suspected he suffered a concussion.

Martin completed 12 of 29 passes for just 107 yards, a touchdown and a late interception.

His one and only CFL passing major was also the first receiving touchdown for backup defensive lineman Jon Oosterhuis, who caught a one-yard pass on the last play of the third quarter that got the Bombers to within nine points, at 17-8, and gave the fans some hope.

The score wasn't the result of a long drive but of a blocked punt. Rookie Stanford Samuels got in front of a Sean Fleming boot at Edmonton's 26-yard line.

"Tee's performance looked rusty," Daley said. "... He'll be better next week than he was tonight."

Edmonton looked like it was about to score again on its ensuing drive, but Winnipeg defensive end Antwone Young forced quarterback Ricky Ray to fumble the ball. Tom Canada recovered the ball, but the Bombers managed to proceed just 15 yards before having to punt.

And that was that.

Fleming booted a 48-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, and Ray, who completed 28 of 40 passes, hit Derrell Mitchell on a 19-yard touchdown toss with 2:10 left that put the nail in Winnipeg's coffin.

"It was a step in the right direction, but a small step," Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown said.

The Bombers offensive line had its troubles once again. Martin was sacked six times, and running back Charles Roberts managed just 31 yards on 10 carries.

That brings Roberts' rushing total this season to 46 yards on 17 carries.

"We're gonna be patient here, and hopefully we can stop giving teams 10-point or 14-point leads to start the game," Roberts said.

DISASTROUS

The Bombers trailed only 10-1 at halftime, but the Eskimos first play of the third quarter proved disastrous.

After Bombers punter John Ryan had pinned the Eskimos on their five-yard line with a 53-yard punt, Ray pump-faked and then hit Jason Tucker with a pass that the receiver took 105 yards for a touchdown, which was the longest passing play in Eskimos history.

"We jumped on a hitch, and it was a pump," Daley said. "It was a great call offensively, and we didn't play it particularly well."

In the first quarter, Edmonton's Mike Bradley had a 60-yard run for a touchdown -- his first rushing touchdown of his career -- and Fleming added a 28-yard field goal.

Winnipeg's only point of the first half came off the foot of punter Jon Ryan, who booted a 79-yard single with the north wind in the second quarter.

Tucker had four catches for 150 yards, while Mitchell had eight grabs for 126.


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