Mike Reilly threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran in another as the Eskimos survived a late scare to come away with a 33-25 victory over the struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday.
Edmonton led 22-0 in the second quarter before Saskatchewan rallied for 19 straight points, including 16 in the third quarter, to make it a game.
"We had a lull, for sure, in the third quarter,'' Reilly said.
"It wasn't a case of us letting our foot off the gas, it was a question of our execution being a little off. We executed real well in the first half, it dipped a bit in the third, but most of the fourth quarter was back up. Our defence played great, too.''
It was Edmonton's third win in a row, upping their record to 5-4.
Eskimos head coach Jason Maas was pleased to see his team rack up 183 rushing yards.
"It's nice to be able to do that against such a good run defence,'' he said.
"For us to go out there and do that speaks volumes about what (O-line coach Mike) Gibson, Shakir Bell and the offensive line is doing. It was a great performance on their part to be able to do that. We had some balance as well, being able to pass it.''
Saskatchewan fell to 1-8 on the season with its fifth consecutive loss.
"We took them to the brink two times in their place,'' said Roughriders head coach Chris Jones, referring to a thrilling 39-36 loss to the Eskimos in their only previous meeting on July 8. "We are a good football team, but unfortunately we make too many errors. We need to understand and believe that we are a good football team. We are just that close.
"You can't quit or hang your head and start second-guessing everything like a lot of folks might do.''
Edmonton started the game with a 36-yard field goal by Sean Whyte on its opening possession and was even more impressive on its second drive, as a 42-yard run by Bell set up a terrific 31-yard touchdown pass from Reilly to Derel Walker.
The Eskimos made it 17-0 with three minutes to play in the first quarter as Reilly found Bell for a 15-yard TD pass.
Edmonton looked to extend its lead even further midway through the second, but Reilly was picked off in the Saskatchewan end zone by Ed Gainey.
The Esks added a safety when Deon Lacey sacked Riders QB Darian Durant in the end zone and another Whyte field goal before Saskatchewan finally got on the board with a Tyler Crapigna field goal to make it 22-3 at the half.
The Riders looked better to start the third, getting a one-yard TD run from Durant off of a long drive, their first touchdown in more than two games worth of playing time. They would go on to sack Reilly in the end zone to cut the Edmonton lead to 10 points.
Durant ran in his second one-yard TD of the game on the final play of the third quarter to make it 22-19.
The Eskimos finally woke back up to start the fourth, getting a seven-yard TD run from Reilly on a dive across the goal line.
Whyte kicked his third field goal of the game before the Riders came roaring back with a five-yard TD pass from Durant to Kendial Lawrence. The convert kick hit the uprights to keep Edmonton up by seven.
The Eskimos defence was able to force a turnover on downs and got a late punt single to put the game away.
The Riders return home to face Winnipeg on Sunday, Sept. 4, while the Eskimos travel to Calgary for the annual Labour Day Classic on Monday, Sept. 5.
Notes: Bell played his first game of the season as he replaced John White as the Eskimos starting running back after White suffered a hand injury against Toronto last week? The crowd of 37,168 for the game at Commonwealth Stadium was the tops in the CFL this season.
- Unfortunately we talked about it all week and we worked on it -- a lot of their big plays come off broken plays, like Collaros, and they made us pay. It happened again in the second half, and that was the difference in the ball game.
- On the onside kick, we watched what they were doing and they were allowing it. We had to do what we had to do to try to win the game.
- (The Holley drop) is just a part of football. Sometimes we make the calls and the plays aren't made and sometimes it's the other way around. We have to be more consistent.
- There's no such thing as moral victories in our locker room. Our guys took this one real hard. It sounds like a broken record but we just have to keep working and execute just a little more consistently. It's coming.
- In the second half our guys did a good job of stepping up. I'm proud we came back and gave ourself a chance to win against a very good Edmonton team. Our only win was against a team that was in the Grey Cup last year. We're just a hair away from winning some of these games.
- On the last play it was one of those deals where we tried to kick it into the endzone with some laterals and things but Shamawd something that thought he could get it in.
- I hope the fans know how hard these guys work, how seriously they take it, and how much they want to win. We approach every game the same. It was awful nice to come here and have such a following and I'm proud of the effort. They laid it all on the line and sometimes teams don't come back when they get down that much. We just have to keep believing in what we're doing.
- We got down early to a great football team - the defending Grey Cup champions - and showed a lot of heart in the second half. That's what we'll need in the second half of the season. Put it together with some execution and we'll definitely get in the win column.
- We need guys to step up. It's from top to bottom. In order to win games you have to make plays when they're there. The Holley drop wasn't the deciding factor but those are the type of plays we need to have to win, especially on the road. But I won't lose faith in him. Down in the line that's a play he'll make.
- Naaman's a big-time receiver. He wowed us last year coming out of training camp and I was excited to work with him and then the injury came. We were in constant contact all off-season and we've worked real hard together for the last several months. He's going to be an All-Star in this league.
- The key to our offense is we have to get the running game going. Ford's done a great job stepping in with only a few weeks of preparation. He's done a great job for us and Steele is getting healthy. If we get Labatte and Best back, we can set ourselves up for a run down the stretch.
- A win over Winnipeg would be huge. I told the guys after the game that we have every team we need to beat right there on our schedule. We have to take it one game at a time but I've been telling the guys how big of a rival Winnipeg it is. We'll have our hands full but if we bring the heart we did tonight going forward, we're going to be real good.
- First and foremost we have the best fans in the CFL hands-down. We travel the best, have the best crowds at home and our true fans will be with us through thick and thin. There will always be bandwagoners and that's just a part of football. I'm just excited to get back before our home crowd and Labour Day should be fun.