OTTAWA — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will feel a lot better about its 29-14 win over the Ottawa Redblacks Friday night at TD Place after seeing starting quarterback Matt Nichols walking around.
Nichols has been one of the Bombers' (3-0) best players to this point, but was forced to leave the game after taking a big hit.
He went 16 for 20 for 262 yards and one touchdown before leaving the game in the third quarter after he had run the ball for 18 yards and was taken down hard by Kevin Brown. Nichols looked a little shaky as he made his way to the locker room.
"That was just dumb by me, not sliding earlier. I know better than that," said Nichols. "I had to come out and with where it was in the game and everything didn't go back in but right now I feel great."
Despite losing Nichols the Bombers were able to persevere and remain the only undefeated team in the CFL.
"We're deep," said Bombers RB Andrew Harris. "Our next man up is ready to come in and make plays. I thought we handled the adversity well."
Chris Streveler replaced Nichols under centre, completing 6-of-8 passes for 42 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also rushed for two touchdowns.
"We got a lot of depth and I'm proud of our guys," said Nichols. "We came into a tough place against a tough team, a team that was 2-0 and clawed and scratched and found a way to win. It was a tough battle all the way through."
The Redblacks gave the Bombers full credit and know they will need to be far better the next time the two meet.
"I thought their O-line and D-line did a really good job against us," said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. "We looked like we were fighting an uphill battle."
Once again the Bombers defence was solid as it didn't allow an offensive touchdown for the second straight game.
Ottawa quarterback Dominique Davis, making his first start against his former team, struggled going 21 for 36 for 234 yards and two interceptions.
"Big ups to those guys," said Davis. "They did a good job executing their plays and were just the better team tonight.
"There's really nothing else I can say."
Things didn't go well for Ottawa from the start and while they don't like to blame the bye week the Redblacks are now 4-8 after taking a week off.
"We just weren't ready to play I don't think," said Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli. "They controlled the ball and that's kind of hard for us on offence to do anything when they have the ball most of the time.
"It felt like we were fighting the whole time."
Winnipeg had possession for 39:01 of the game.
The Blue Bombers took a 22-4 lead on a one-yard QB sneak by Streveler early in the third quarter, but the Redblacks made a game of it, for a short while.
Lewis Ward made it 22-7 with a 42-yard field goal and on the next play Jonathan Rose recovered a forced fumble and ran in a 39-yard touchdown to make it 22-14.
Ottawa's Ryan Lankford made a bad decision on a punt return midway through the fourth when he allowed the Bombers to recover the ball on the four-yard line. Two plays later Streveler ran the ball in for his third touchdown of the game to make it 29-14 Winnipeg.
"We've just got to be on it," said Campbell. "It's an unfortunate play. That was a frustrating one for me, but I know all our guys are trying hard and doing their thing. We'll watch it (Saturday) and make sure we learn from it."
Both teams had their issues in the opening half, but it was Winnipeg that held a 15-4 lead.
Leading 8-4, the Bombers extended their lead midway through the second quarter as Streveler completed a 75-yard drive with a two-yard TD pass to Drew Wolitarsky.
Winnipeg kicker Justin Medlock had a rough start. In the first quarter he hit the upright on his first field goal attempt and in the second was forced to settle for a single when he kicked wide right giving the Bombers an 8-1 lead.
In comparison, Ward set a personal record with his longest, 53 yards, for his 58th consecutive field goal.
Nichols picked up his 100th career TD connecting with a wide-open Nic Demski for an 82-yard touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead.
Ottawa's Richie Leone kicked a 51-yard single to get the Redblacks on the board.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press