Rasheed Bailey says it was one of the greatest touchdowns of his CFL career.
It happened in a game that Winnipeg didn’t need to win, but when Bailey hauled in a tipped pass from starting quarterback Dru Brown and ran into the end zone for a 68-yard score, it provided all the spark the Blue Bombers needed to go on to a 36-13 triumph over the Calgary Stampeders.
“That play represents the whole year,” said Bailey, who finished the season with six touchdown catches to give him 20 for his four-year career with the Bombers.
“It’ll probably go down as one of my greatest touchdowns of my career. You see all the guys surrounding you, that’s real impact, that’s real love, that’s real leadership.
“That’s what that touchdown means to me.”
Just before Bailey’s clutch catch late in the third quarter, the Stampeders had gone up 13-12 thanks to Cole Tucker’s first CFL touchdown, a 21-yard pass he hauled in from quarterback Jake Maier to cap off a six-play, 78-yard drive.
“I think the spark might have been Rasheed Bailey,” said Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea of the quick response by his team. “That’s as good a touchdown catch and run you’re ever going to see.
“He got that whole bench fired up. Guys were just pumped when they saw that.”
Brown also threw a TD pass to Brendan O’Leary-Orange, while backup QB Dakota Prukop added a one-yard run into the end zone with 1:38 remaining in the game to round out the scoring.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Brown, who completed 13-of-17 passes for 278 yards. “I think in the second half, we were able to roll through some good plays [that were] called in the right situation and well executed.”
Sergio Castillo kicked five field goals for the Blue Bombers (14-4).
Winnipeg had already clinched a bye through the first round of the CFL playoffs and will host either the B.C. Lions (12-6) or the Stampeders (6-12) on Nov. 11 in the Western Final.
Rene Paredes kicked a pair of field goals for the Stamps to account for Calgary’s other points.
“We got outplayed and outcoached,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson.
“They were the more physical group. We had just a little bit of life when we took the lead and they took it right back. Hopefully our guys are ready to work and get another shot at it.”
Having already clinched a playoff berth, the Stamps will travel to Vancouver next weekend to face the Lions in the West Division semifinal.
Needing just two rushing yards to surpass the 1,500-plateau for the season, Winnipeg running back Brady Oliviera accomplished that feat on the first play from scrimmage of the game with an eight-yard run.
Oliviera, the Blue Bombers’ nominee for both most outstanding Canadian and most outstanding player, only played in the first quarter before reappearing for a couple plays late in the game. He finished with 36 yards rushing on eight carries to give him an impressive and league-leading 2,016 yards from scrimmage for the season.
Castillo accounted for all the points in a snowy first quarter as he kicked a pair of field goals, from 51 and 23 yards out, to give Winnipeg a 6-0 lead.
After the snow stopped, Castillo added a 30-yard field goal just 39 seconds into the second quarter to extend Winnipeg’s lead to 9-0.
On Calgary’s next drive, Tucker hauled in a 32-yard catch to get the Stamps into Winnipeg territory, but the drive ended abruptly six plays later when Paredes missed a 45-yard field goal wide to the left.
Parades finally connected on a kick through the uprights at 8:28 of the second quarter to get the Stamps on the board before Castillo booted a 42-yard field goal at 14:02 to put the Bombers up 12-3 at halftime.
After Paredes kicked a 35-yard field goal for the Stamps early in the third quarter, Prokop drove the Bombers to the 29-yard line in Calgary’s territory before Stampeders linebacker Adarius Taylor forced the Winnipeg QB to fumble the ball and picked it up to end the scoring threat.
Maier then engineered the drive that culminated with Tucker’s TD catch.
After Bailey’s impressive catch-and-run score with 2:49 left in the third quarter, O’Leary-Orange hauled in a 31-yard TD pass from Brown 51 seconds into the fourth to give the Bombers a 26-13 lead.
Castillo then booted a 40-yard field goal at 5:07 before Prukop ran for his one-yard score to cap off a late 12-play, 85-yard drive.
Heading into the game, Calgary linebacker Micah Awe needed just three defensive tackles to break the team’s single-season record of 123 set by Alex Singleton in 2017 and 2018.
Awe finished the game with 13 defensive tackles to bring up his season total to 134, which is the third-best single-season total in CFL history behind only Solomon Elimimian, who finished with 144 in 2017 and 143 in 2014.
“It feels good,” said Awe.
“To me, I’m still shooting for the stars. The way I look at it, if I have 13 tackles and I’m 13 for 13, we probably won. Tonight, that didn’t happen, so I still have to make more tackles.”
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