Not even the sky was the limit for the B.C. Lions Thursday night.
With a crushing defeat at the hands of the Saskatchewan Roughriders still fresh in their memories, the Lions did much to regain their winning form in a lopsided 48-17 victory over the Bluebombers in front of 25,567 disappointed Winnipeg fans.
The audience was treated to an aerial extravaganza in one of the most exciting and entertaining CFL games all season, which saw a fast paced offensive showdown between two storied conference rivals produce 522 passing yards, igniting the humid evening air.
Of course, the biggest story of the evening was the spectacular play of backup quarterback Casey Printers, starting only his second game of the season as a replacement for injured stalwart Dave Dickenson. His leadership and accuracy on the long throws were considered vital to a Lion?s victory, and he produced in incredible fashion, connecting for 24 of 33 passes and 353 yards in the air ? all of which came with no interceptions.
With every game that passes, Printers seems more comfortable and intuitive with his receivers, and Thursday?s showing was no exception as he smoothly passed all over the field, which included finding Thelwell in the endzone twice on seemingly impossible plays.
His athleticism and poise found their presentation on the ground as well as in the air, with the young quarterback scrambling for two touchdowns and making Winnipeg defensemen dizzy with his agility and obvious comfort within the pocket. ?You saw tonight, again, what an athlete he is,” said Lion?s coach Buono, ?but the thing that I think he showed more than anything was how poised he was. Obviously, we’re very happy to have him.”
The Bluebombers did their best to keep up with Printers, remaining within 5 points of the Lions until the 3rd quarter, in which they were thoroughly trounced for 24 unanswered points. The B.C. showing featured a 37-yard field goal by Duncan O’Mahony and a beautiful touchdown by Printers, who put on a running clinic for the beleaguered Winnipeg corners as he scrambled into the endzone unchallenged. Thelwell and Brazzell were recipients of clean passes from Printers in the same quarter, helping to crush any hope of a Bombers comeback.
Relief is the only word one can use to describe their feelings towards the Lion?s defense as, despite being overshadowed by offensive production, they completely reversed their less-than-stellar previous showings and ultimately stole the show. Their defensive line was a terror all night, plugging the lanes and proving to be a nightmare for the Bomber?s offensive line. Even the B.C. secondary, a serious concern after a shaky start this season, kept Winnipeg to only 169 yards including an interception by defensive back Sam Young.
Now, things start to get really interesting in the Western conference. With the victory in Manitoba, the B.C. Lions find themselves in the middle of a fierce 3-way tie for first place with Edmonton and Winnipeg at 4 points apiece. Every game from here on in will play a crucial role in the overall success of the Lions, especially their next match against the extremely potent Montreal Alouettes and their crushing offence.