August 11, 2023

Game Recap | WPG 38 EDM 29

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Dalton Schoen (83) celebrates a touchdown with a teammate against the Edmonton Elks during first half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday, August 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

EDMONTON – It was predictable in so many ways and improbable in so many others. And while it will officially be recorded as a Winnipeg Blue Bombers win and another Edmonton Elks home loss – ho-hum, same-old, same-old – it’s what made up the result that is the stuff of Canadian Football League legend.

Yes, let the record show that the Blue Bombers knocked off the Elks 38-29 at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium Thursday night, but the club’s seventh win of the season was anything but garden variety. In fact, where do we begin?

Down 22-zip early and without Zach Collaros, who left the game with an injury, the Blue Bombers rallied behind Dru Brown for a thrilling, wacky, exciting and nutty victory that now has them 7-2 at the midpoint of the season.

“Character… building… win,” said receiver Rasheed Bailey in a euphoric Blue Bombers locker room. “We’re getting better. But this type of win is what makes a team a team. To come back after losing your starting quarterback, with Dru stepping in, this is how you build a championship team. This is huge. People can say, ‘Oh, it was Edmonton’… no. We were in their house, Tre Ford is back there, they were playing well, but we willed ourselves back.

“We are the giant and this type of win puts us in the position to keep building our character. I love this team.”

The 22-point comeback is the second largest in franchise history, ranking only behind a 27-point rally in a Blue Bombers 46-44 win over Hamilton in  1994. And while so many players had their fingerprints all over the rally, Brown was at the centre of it all.

The third-year Bomber took control of the offence in the second quarter after Collaros was drilled after attempting to flick a pass to a receiver while falling down – more on that later – and grew more and more comfortable with each snap. His numbers by game’s end were a trumpet blast across the CFL: 17 of 24 for 307 yards and four touchdowns – the first to Dalton Schoen, followed by connections with Nic Demski, Kenny Lawler and Brady Oliveira.

The Blue Bombers finished the game with 459 yards net offence – including 164 along the ground – and have now scored 88 points in their last two games.

“Anytime anything happens to Zach, it’s bad,” said Brown. “I never want that to happen to him. So, initially, I’m looking at him to see if he’s going to get up like he usually does because he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve been around. And obviously I’m hurting for him. But then Dakota (Prukop) said, ‘Let’s go warm up.’ I got loose after settling in a little bit.

“Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve had to learn how to accept my role on the team. As a quarterback it’s weird, especially at the professional level, but you’re typically not a back-up for most of your career. The guys in that room have made it easy to get on board with what we’re doing.

“You come in after a win where you come back and even if you’re not playing, you’re just proud of the guys that were out there. Everybody contributes to a win. That’s what’s special. I don’t know how many teams have guys that are role guys that are this into it.”

More on a wild Blue Bombers win from our perch in the press box…


Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said after the game that Collaros had an ‘upper body injury’ after being squished by Elks defensive lineman Kony Ealy and did not return.

He did watch the rest of the game from the sidelines while in civvies, but we likely won’t know further about his situation until the club returns to the practice field next Monday.

O’Shea did challenge the play for a possible roughing the passer penalty but the command centre – surprisingly – did not see an infraction. Asked what he heard from the officiating crew about the call, O’Shea added.

“They said that he tried to brace himself from landing on him.”

This, from the league:

The Blue Bombers also lost receiver Drew Wolitarsky to injury in the first half after a catch and he was replaced by Brendan O’Leary-Orange.


Lawler’s 32-yard one-handed over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth quarter – a perfect strike from Brown and with a defender hand-fighting him along the way – is instantly a highlight of the year candidate.

It was also the score that gave the Blue Bombers their first lead. Asked where that catch might rank in his Top 10 of catches, Lawler grinned.

“We’ll put it in our Top 2,” he said.

And Number 1, then?

“Oh, man… there’s too many. Too many routine catches.”

Lawler finished with two catches for 49 yards while Bailey had 5-85 to lead the team. Eight different receivers pulled in passes for the Blue Bombers as part of the comeback.

“This, right here, is a championship team,” Lawler said. “This is a team that’s been there and done it. It doesn’t matter when adversity hits, it just builds more character. It’s a collective effort from all the men in that locker room, pushing, scratching and clawing play after play.”

And as for what the CFL may have learned about Brown after his performance, Lawler was succinct:

“He’s a dawg. He’s a dawg, man,” said Lawler. “Comes in, ‘No pressure, no sweat, let’s get it done.’”

WHAT THE.. ?!:

The Blue Bombers were down 22-zip early with the Elks delivering the first punch on the very first offensive play as running back Kevin Brown rumbled 65 yards for a game-opening TD in which he wasn’t even touched until a diving tackle attempt at the five-yard line.

The Elks then got a rushing TD from Tre Ford, making his first start of the season, and the Pick 6 by Louchiez Purifoy on the Collaros attempt to make something happen. The Blue Bombers would get gashed for a 70-yard Ford-to-Kyran Moore TD late in the third, but by and large the defence stiffened when it mattered as the club out-scored the Elks 38-7 after taking the early shots.

“Edmonton came out and punched us in the mouth in the first quarter and a bit,” said O’Shea. “When a guy goes 65 yards untouched there are a LOT of mistakes, it’s not one thing. There’s a bunch of things that went wrong.

“And then the second drive they just out-physicaled us. We were still kind of sleeping, I guess. After that they had another big play, but really they got all of their yards in those first two drives our defence held them in check and our defence took the ball away, once in scoring position, which was huge.

“That was not an easy win. There’s a large core of guys in that dressing room who have been down before. They just fought back. We fought back in the second quarter and were only down 12 at the half. There’s a lot of reasons to be positive.”


So many to choose from, but the Lawler one-hander that gave the Blue Bombers their first lead after being down 22-0 in the second quarter was a punctuation point.


The passing yardage total by Brown, who was sensational in his work out of the bullpen. Winnipeg’s second-down conversion numbers were also gaudy at 67 percent on 16-of-24.

GAME BALL: Dru Brown, QB:

We’re going to be talking about the man’s performance for a long spell here.


  • The home loss was the Elks’ 22nd in a row. That is by far the longest in league history. Their last home win was October 12, 2019, against B.C.
  • The Blue Bombers have won nine straight against Edmonton dating to November 3, 2018 – a game in which several starters were rested for the playoffs. Winnipeg is 9-1 in its last 10 vs. Edmonton.


The Blue Bombers are back in Alberta next week, facing the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Friday, August 18th with an 8 p.m. CDT start. The next home game goes Thursday, August 24th against the Montreal Alouettes, followed by the annual Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl doubleheader with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 3rd and 9th.