the edmonton elks hosted the defending back-to-back Gray Cup Champions the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday, July 22nd, 2022 at Commonwealth Stadium. The game was leaning in favor of Edmonton as they kept pace with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the majority of the game. In the end, the more experienced Winnipeg Blue Bombers prevailed with a 24-10 victory.
There is no doubt that for the 2022 Edmonton Elks this season, the Elks looked out of place in which they had gotten completely outplayed in Week 1 vs the BC Lions losing 59-15, along with another blowout loss in Week 5 vs. Calgary Stampeders lose 49-6. Now factoring in that Winnipeg was now Edmonton’s next opponent, any Edmonton fan would be lying if they were not too optimistic with the outcome vs Winnipeg.
The Edmonton defense flexed its muscles from the opening kickoff resulting in a Winnipeg punt. However, on the Edmont’s 1st offensive possession, it was halted by the Winnipeg defense with a Taylor Cornelius interception by Winnipeg’s Deatrick Nichols.
And just like that pinned on their own 26-Yard line, Zach Collaros took full advantage of tossing a strike to Rasheed Baily. Winnipeg would then add on by the PAT from Marc Liegghio. Winnipeg would go up 7-0.
As the game when on, it appeared that Edmonton began to settle down and made a game of it. What was surprising in the game was the fact that Edmonton had dominated the time of possession. They finished the game with a total time of possession of 37:14, while Winnipeg had a total time of possession of 22:46. And yes, you heard that right.
The unfortunate thing for Edmonton was the fact that all of the offense came from the leg of Sergio Castillo. Sergio Castillo would connect on field goals at 06:22 in the 1st quarter field from 52 yards, at 13:44 in the 2nd Quarter from 44 yards, at 08:04 in the 4th quarter for 27 yards, and with a rouge from a missed field goal at 48 yards conceded by Winnipeg.
Taylor Cornelius did look pretty good out there. Although he finished the game by going 25 for 42 in passes completed, he would end the day throwing for 270 yards, no touchdowns, and a lone interception. He was impressive in the fact of extending drives for a good duration of the game. More importantly, in distributing the ball where he would connect with Kenny Lawler for 7 receptions for 98 yards, Caleb Holey for 6 receptions for 50 yards, Emmanuel Arceneaux for 5 receptions for 48 yards, followed by Mike Jones with 2 receptions for 34 yards.
The running game would also be better than in games in the past. Taylor Cornelius would call his own number in which he would complete the game rushing for 59 years on 15 carries. This was then followed by Maleek Irons for 20 yards of 4 carries, along with Ante Milanovic-Litre for 8 yards on 1 carry. Edmonton would have a total of 87 rushing yards vs. a very stingy Winnipeg defense.
Edmonton Defense Kept Zach Collaros in Check
The one thing that stood out on the defensive side of the ball was how well rested the Edmonton defense was for the whole game. Moreover, they were able to stall Winnipeg. Winnipeg was only able to have 5 or more plays for drives on only 3 occasions. This was seen in the 1st quarter for 6 plays, followed by late in the 3rd going in the 4th quarter for 5 plays and ending with the 4th quarter for 16 plays which were extended by a roughing the kicker penalty after Edmonton had halted Winnipeg.
Zach Collaros would end the day with 7 completions from 16 attempts, for 188 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. However, like Winnipeg being Winnipeg, Zach Collaros would make the most of his chances for him and carry the team on his back from him. He engineered his offense with the 16-play drive that would be capped off by backup QB Dru Brown to extend the score 24-10 after the PAT by Marc Liegghio with 02:42 left in the game.
Moral Victory for Edmonton
The fact that Edmonton hung in there to the end was a surprise, to say the least. Nobody saw this coming and most football fans felt that it would be more like a 34-14 game in favor of Winnipeg. However, they took advantage of their opportunities, especially on the defense where they did not let Winnipeg get into a comfortable groove. Aside from not being able to cover Dalton Schoen who torched Edmonton for 146 yards on 4 receptions with a touchdown, Edmonton did a good job in shutting down the best team in the CFL.
It was great to see the return of Duron Carter. With a depleted defense due to many injuries thus far, he was a big help for the secondary. He would also return the ball for a total of 88 yards on special teams.
The only real knock was the offensive line as a whole. Winnipeg had a total of 5 sacks which at times it looked like it could have been a momentum swing. Had they made even 2 of those possessions into scores, we can be talking about what an upset victory this was for Edmonton.
At the end of the day, Edmonton can walk off the field with their heads held high. They now go into Week 8 with a bye, along with 2 weeks for their next game. More importantly, it’s 2 more weeks of possibly getting players back from the 6-game injury list. If Aaron Grymes is ready for Week 9, Edmonton walks into the next game with a lot of healthier bodies in the secondary.
The next Edmonton Elks game will be on Saturday, August 6th, 2022 vs the BC Lions at BC Place Stadium.
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