Numbers don't add up

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

This just does not compute.

Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray completed 36 of 43 passes against the Blue Bombers last week. That's just seven misses.

And still lost.

Ray threw for a grand total of 434 yards and two touchdowns.

And still lost.

In fact, Ray's first TD toss gave him 145 in his career, passing the legendary Warren Moon for the most in club history.

And failed to celebrate with a victory.

Winnipeg defeated the Eskimos 30-23 in their home ballpark and, as strange is it might sound, its secondary actually had a pretty decent outing.

DID OUR JOB

"We did real good," cornerback Robert Bean said yesterday. "I mean, Ricky Ray is a good quarterback. He's the type of guy who can complete a pass. He's not just going to throw it down the field and create turnovers. He's going to complete the short passes that are open. He's not going to force the ball (into coverage) so, that's what he's done.

"So we expect him to complete a good many of his passes but hopefully, we stop the big play and don't let them score. So I think we did our job last week."

Ray's longest passes were 44 and 39 yards -- both touchdowns. But there was only one other completion for more than 20.

"That's Ricky Ray's offence," said Bombers defensive back Stanford Samuels. "Ricky Ray's always going to take the check-down. He's always going to take what you give him so he's always going to have a high completion percentage and he's going to get that yardage.

"But the main thing is to hold down the big plays and make plays when you have the opportunity to do."

Ray dropped off seven passes to tailback Ron McClendon for 62 yards and another three to running back Calvin McCarty for 20.

"They live and die by the deep dig and we worked hard on getting big drops," strong-side linebacker Kelly Malveaux said after the match. "If they get the pass off to the check-down, we have to rally and tackle. You know, Edmonton has a very explosive offence and they live and die by that, by competing the deeper balls."

Ray has now thrown for more than 4,000 yards for the fourth time in his career. He has also moved into first place among CFL quarterbacks with a total of 4,262 yards passing and a league-leading 68.9% completion rate.

And here's another thing that does not compute. Despite those numbers, the Eskimos are currently in last place in the CFL West with a 7-6 record.

But if the Bombers want to sweep this home-and-home series when they invade the Igloo tomorrow night, they must find a way to limit Ray even further.

"Look at Edmonton's offence, they've shown that they're capable of moving the ball against everybody all year long," said Bombers head coach Doug Berry. "They average over 400 yards a game. It's just what their strength is. I don't know if anybody's going to be able to put the brakes on Ricky Ray and all the people that he has around him.

"At the end of the day, we'd better score one more point than they do."

Like they did last week (OK, seven more).

Only thing is, the Winnipeg secondary is expecting the Eskimos to revise their offensive approach.

"It's going to be an intense game," Bean predicted. "They're going to be all hyped up because it's a home game for them and they're going to try to change the gameplan around so they can hopefully hit some of these passes.

"They might try to go deeper down the field instead of just nickel and diming all the way down the field."

But you can bet that if Ray completes 83.7% of his passes for more than 400 yards once again -- on his home turf -- it will compute into victory this time.


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