Relentless pursuit of Pierce

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos had it figured out.

Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce can’t hurt you if he spends most of the game on his backside.

The Eskimos sacked Pierce five times and had relentless pressure on him through most of their 24-10 CFL victory over the Blue Bombers in Edmonton on Saturday.

When he wasn’t sacked, Pierce was either running for his life or hurrying his throws. And when he did get them to some of his receivers, they seemed to be so nervous about getting hit they kept bobbling balls. They dropped at least five catchable passed and handed the Eskies two interceptions.

While some observers suggested the Winnipeg O-line lost the battle of the trenches, Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice came to its rescue.

“A couple of pressures on him were plays where he had to throw the ball,” LaPolice said upon returning home Sunday. “We had some play-action passes where we don’t block a guy and then we had a couple of sacks that really weren’t on the offensive line.

“The ball has to come out of (Pierce’s) hands, so that’s my fault for not having Buck under the understanding that we have to do that.”

Yet, that O-line went into the weekend having allowed the second-most sacks in the CFL.

“Buck was scrambling a lot,” said offensive tackle Glenn January. “Whether it be our fault or the coverage or breakdowns, we can’t really tell. It felt like, sometimes, he was leaving the pocket because the clock went off in his head. But at the same time, we have to do a better job of protecting him regardless of where he is on the field. It’s a difficult job and that’s why not a lot of people sign up for it.”

It won’t get any easier when the Montreal Alouettes come to town this Saturday. The Als edged the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-25 Sunday to move into top spot in the East. And Montreal’s John Bowman is third in the CFL with 10 sacks.

That Winnipeg misery had company, though. Receiver Cory Watson dropped at least two catchable balls and Greg Carr even more — one that should have been a touchdown. Two of those bobbles resulted in interceptions as Pierce was picked off three times.

“With five minutes left in the third, we made it 14-10, but we didn’t do anything consistently offensively,” LaPolice said. “We had too many turnovers. Early in the game, I thought if we made a couple of plays — we had a big drop and then we had a drop in the endzone that would have scored — there were three that would have helped us with the emotions and calming them down. But we’ve got to play for 60 minutes and hat’s off to them (Eskimos), they played better than us.”


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