Game Breakers

JIM BENDER, HOME TURF

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

With one heroic touchdown on the last play of the game last year, Winnipeg's Milt Stegall clearly defined what we mean by the term game breakers.

And Stegall is not the only player capable of such drama whenever the Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos take on each other. In fact, it is often a completely different player who has been a danger to the opposing side whenever the two meet.

The following players are those who have proven to be the most dangerous threats whenever Winnipeg plays Edmonton:

SB MILT STEGALL

- The 14-year veteran showed no signs of age as he not only tied the CFL record for most touchdowns scored (137) when these two teams met in Edmonton during the first week of the season, but Stegall led all receivers with 126 yards on seven receptions. The record-tying TD sent the game into overtime and it finished in a 39-39 tie. And, while everyone was being reminded of his last-minute TD in Edmonton last year, many have forgotten that the 6-foot, 189-pound Miami product was almost as dangerous the week before. Stegall, 37, caught seven passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns as Winnipeg whipped the Eskimos 46-10 on Canada Day. And that just warmed up Miracle Milt. We enjoy this replay so much that we will describe it yet once again here. On July 20 in Edmonton, the Bombers scrimmaged the ball on their own 10 and many had already conceded defeat. But Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn stepped back, reared back and completed a Hail Mary to Stegall between two Eskimo defenders. As those two stumbled, Stegall raced to the endzone accompanied by Chris Brazzell, who had no one to block and with Bomber head coach Doug Berry racing down the sidelines screaming deliriously. When Brazzell jumped on Stegall in the endzone, Stegall said it was the hardest he had ever been hit. The play made ESPN highlight reels and some Eskimos have even suggested that it was the defining moment in their losing season last year. Unforgetta-Milt.

QB KEVIN GLENN

- Clearly overshadowed in all of the above contests was the work of Winnipeg's signal-caller. But Glenn completed 29 of 44 passes for 416 yards and one touchdown in the 39-39 tie. Last year, Glenn completed 15 of 24 passes for 386 yards and three majors in the 46-10 rout of the Eskimos. In the second contest, Glenn went from goat to hero in mere moments. Nursing a small lead, Glenn had fumbled the ball away, allowing Edmonton to score what looked to be the winning points as time ticked rapidly off the clock. The Bombers were nailed for a penalty on the ensuing kickoff, forcing Winnipeg to scrimmage the ball on its own 10. On first down, Glenn, 28, just missed Stegall, then called the same play, which resulted in the 100-yard miracle. The 5-foot-10, 193-pound pivot finished 20 of 35 for 374 yards and one TD, with one interception.

KR ALBERT JOHNSON III

- Although the ex-NFLer was held in check during the 39-39 tie, he proved to be a danger most times he fielded either a punt or kickoff last year. In the 2007 season-opener in Edmonton, Johnson was held to 81 yards on five kickoff returns and eight yards on one punt return. Last year, in the 46-10 drubbing of Edmonton, the 5-foot-9, 199-pound import gained 50 yards on five punt runbacks and added another 53 on only two kickoff returns. During the 25-20 victory, Johnson ran back six punts for 53 yards and returned a pair of kickoffs for another 36. More importantly, he was close to breaking several of those returns in both outings. And with the new rules on punt returns, Johnson, 29, could prove to be even more dangerous.

QB RICKY RAY

- During the tie, the most impressive offensive players on the field were Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn and Ray. The Edmonton ball tosser completed 33 of 42 attempts -- including his first 10 straight passes -- for 394 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Happy Camp, Calf., product also scrambled for 34 yards on four tries. The Eskimos may have only scored 10 points when the Bombers bombed Edmonton but the signal caller still had some pretty impressive stats. Ray, 27, completed 25 of 33 passes for 352 yards with one interception in the losing cause. Ray, in fact, has long been a thorn in the Winnipeg side, win or lose. He just seems to be able to find holes in whatever defence the Bombers employ. And it looked like he was going to be the hero in the second meeting with Winnipeg, leading the Eskies to what seemed like the winning points in the waning moments. Ray completed 26 of 38 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown, with one pick, only to watch Stegall score the winning TD in the 25-22 loss.

WR JASON TUCKER

- The veteran pass catcher proved to be a threat in all three outings with the Bombers. In the 39-39 draw, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Texas Christian product caught five passes for 48 yards and two majors. Last year, even when Edmonton fell 46-10, Tucker latched on to six passes for 94 yards. And the speedster was even more impressive in the second loss. Tucker, 31, caught five passes for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 25-22 loss.

KR TONY TOMPKINS

- The 5-foot-8, 165-pound speedster clearly outshone Winnipeg's Johnson in the CFL season-opener. Tompkins, 24, returned six kickoffs for 122 yards, five punt returns for 73 and almost broke a missed field goal return. Last year, Tompkins proved to be even more effective than Johnson in the first match. Then again, when your team loses 46-10, you get lots of chances to return kickoffs. Tompkins returned seven of them for 119 yards and added another 30 on a pair of punt returns. Although he was still dangerous in the ensuing contest, Tompkins was held in check a little better. He was held to 37 yards on two kickoff returns and 36 on five punt returns.


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