The BC Lions had a tough loss to the Winnipeg Blue bombers losing 14-50 in an educational experience. Vernon Adams Jr. is expecting to return to start at quarterback in their next game against Calgary.
CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)
If You’re Going to Lose, May as Well Get Killed
Losing is never fun especially losing big. However, sometimes a big loss is a better learning experience than a close one. This game was a major reminder for the BC Lions to the dangers the Winnipeg Blue Bombers still present which may have been somewhat forgotten after BC beat Winnipeg at home 30-6.
BC has had such dominance this season that they have at times felt unbeatable. Outside the loss to Toronto which felt somewhat like a one-time thing given the fact that so many of the Argonaut’s points were scored off of interceptions. This is a good experience to get out of the system and there is value in the knowledge that you can be beaten.
Winnipeg Brought Fire Defensively
The first offensive play of the game saw Winnipeg’s Adam Bighill perform a pretty nice run stop on Taquan Mizzell stopping him for a 3-yard gain. The next play saw Winnipeg’s star defensive end, Willie Jefferson, get passed BC’s left tackle Jarell Broxton, and hit Dane Evan’s as he threw a pass that was nearly intercepted by Evan Holms for Winnipeg breaking up the pass.
On the 2nd drive, Winnipeg got pressure to Dane Evans on almost every passing play and then got the stop in short yardage on a 3rd and 1 to force a turnover on downs.
Winnipeg’s Passing Game Bombarded the Lions
We knew before the season that Winnipeg was going to be a challenging passing offense when they brought back Kenny Lawler who was the 2021 receiving yards leader joining him with Dalton Schoen who was the 2022 receiving yards leader.
Winnipeg’s first passing play also showed a theme that was present for the rest of the game. Schoen and Lawler were both on the right side. Shoen ran an out route as Lawler ran a post causing their routes to cross. Garry Peters switched to cover Winnipeg’s Dalton Schoen and Kenny Lawler found a lot of space downfield for a 34-yard gain. It was a strange defensive scheme that felt like Garry Peters was essentially covering Lawler and Schoen by himself with TJ Lee positioned much closer to the middle of the field to begin the play and Mathieu Betts dropping back into coverage to trail Schoen.
The next play Dalton Schoen got separation quickly running past TJ Lee on a deep route over the middle for a 71-yard touchdown.
The next Winnipeg passing play saw Kenny Lawler beat Marcus Sayles and catch a pass for a 57-yard touchdown on a deep route.
Winnipeg poses a defensive conundrum due to the vast amount of talent they have at receiver similar to what BC has often put their opponents through. Early in the third quarter Collaros connected with Nic Demski for a great throw and catch over the shoulder with TJ Lee providing pretty tight coverage.
Winnipeg’s backup quarterback, “Downtown” Dru Brown, got in on the party as well completing both of his passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Run Stopping, Some Good, Some Sad
Week 9 was quite a contrast to the last 2 games both of which BC held their opponent’s starting running back to 1 yard per carry or less in their wins against Saskatchewan and Edmonton.
Winnipeg’s starting running back ran 9 times for 67 yards averaging 7.4 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. He did have a fumble as he was tackled by Jalon Edwards-Cooper and then Bo Lokombo ran back for BC’s only touchdown of the game. On another play, Bo Lokombo did a good job filling a hole at the line and holding a run to 1 yard in the 1st quarter. Nathan Cherry had a nice run stop in the second quarter holding Oliveira to 1 yard before Winnipeg settled for a field goal.
Oliveira’s first touchdown was a 3-yard run in the 2nd quarter. His last 2 runs were a 13-yard rush in the third and then a 27-yard touchdown to end his night in the 4th quarter.
BC’s Offense Couldn’t Get Going
BC struggled to get much going against Winnipeg Thursday night offensively. In fairness to BC Dane Evans was starting in place of an injured Vernon Adams Jr. at quarterback. Then Dane Evans left the game due to a rib injury. There were some nice almost plays such as a long ball to Lucky Whitehead to try to respond in the first quarter but he was unable to hold on to what would have been a difficult catch that he laid out for. There were also a couple of plays in which Dominique Rhymes was targetted that he was quite able to adjust to the ball enough for what would have been spectacular plays if he was able to. Keon Hatcher led the team in receiving 4 of his 11 targets for 60 yards and he had the longest play for the Lions which was a 26-yarder in the 2nd quarter.
Dane Evans completed 12 of his 21 passes for 113 yards with 2 interceptions in just under a half of football. Dominique Davis completed 8 of his 18 throws for 76 yards. It’s hard to fault the quarterback much with how effective Winnipeg’s pass rush was in this game.
Taquan Mizzell was a bright spot as he still was able to rush for 50 yards on his 10 carries for 5 yards per carry.
Terry Williams Had Good Returns
Terry Williams had a pretty good game on special teams. His only punt return was for 35 yards and he returned 6 kickoffs averaging 32.5 yards per return with his longest being for 62 yards. He played very well for BC and was fun to watch in a game where there were not many fun things to watch for BC Lions’ fans.
To Be Continued
The BC Lions next play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in week 18 at BC Place. The way the season is shaping up it feels like that game will be a preview of the West Division final. Both teams have now blown each other out.
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