Matt Nichols threw for more than 300 yards for the first time this season to help the Winnipeg Blue Bombers clinch a playoff spot with a 29-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Friday.
The Bombers’ win (10-7) also eliminated the Edmonton Eskimos (8-9) from post-season play. Winnipeg ends the regular season in Edmonton next weekend.
Calgary (12-5), which has lost three straight, can still finish first in the CFL West Division if Saskatchewan (11-6) loses or ties its Saturday game in B.C. (9-7). If the Roughriders win, the Stampeders can get top spot if they beat the Lions in B.C. the following weekend.
It was the first time Winnipeg has defeated Calgary at home since July 2009. The Stamps had nine straight victories.
Nichols completed 24-of-33 pass attempts for 358 yards and threw touchdown passes to Darvin Adams and Drew Wolitarsky. He had no interceptions in front of 25,173 fans at Investors Group Field, which was covered in fog for the second half.
WATCH: Raw Matt Nichols Post Game Interview
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was 22 for 35 for 274 yards with one touchdown toss to Markeith Ambles and no picks for Calgary.
Adams caught a 50-yard TD pass and Wolitarsky hauled in a 60-yard reception for Winnipeg’s touchdowns through the air. Backup quarterback Chris Streveler had a two-yard run for a TD.
Justin Medlock booted a pair of field goals from 13 yards out and a 35-yarder for Winnipeg. He made a pair of converts and Nichols was sacked on a two-point convert attempt.
Backup Calgary quarterback Nick Arbuckle pushed in for a two-yard touchdown and Ambles had a one-yard TD catch. Two Calgary converts were unsuccessful. Rene Paredes made field goals from 43, 31 and 51 yards.
Calgary led 3-0 after the first quarter and 12-6 at halftime, but Winnipeg went ahead 26-18 after the third quarter.
Both teams scored field goals off turnovers in the first half.
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Stampeders receiver Chris Matthews fumbled late in the first quarter as he stretched his arm out to gain more yardage. The Bombers only capitalized with Medlock’s 13-yarder at 4:19 of the second to make it 3-3. Parades had booted a 43-yarder on Calgary’s first possession of the game.
Matthews made up for his earlier error when he caught a 65-yard pass from Mitchell. A Winnipeg penalty also helped Arbuckle cap off the three-play, 75-yard TD drive with his two-yard keeper. A two-point convert attempt to William Langlais was incomplete for a 9-3 Stampeders lead at 5:17.
Paredes’ kickoff was taken by Bombers receiver Nic Demski, but he also fumbled while trying to add yardage. Calgary could only use the turnover for a 31-yard kick by Parades. Medlock finished the scoring with a 35-yard field goal at 12:46 that made it 12-6.
Four touchdowns were scored in the third quarter.
Nichols still had a clear shot of Adams despite the fog. Adams got behind rookie Calgary defensive back DaShaun Amos to haul in a 50-yard pass in the end zone at 4:48 of the third. With Medlock’s convert, the Bombers took a 13-12 lead.
Calgary got to Winnipeg’s one-yard line on the next series after a Winnipeg pass-interference penalty, but Arbuckle was stopped twice. Mitchell came in, went in a shotgun formation and connected with receiver Ambles for the one-yard TD. A two-point convert pass to Juwan Brescacin failed.
Winnipeg quickly regained the lead after Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill forced Stamps running back Don Jackson to fumble. Streveler punched into the end zone at 13:42 for a 26-18 lead after the convert.
WATCH: Raw Adam Bighill Post Game Interview
The Bombers turned the ball over with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter after Streveler’s attempt at third down with one yard was stopped and Calgary took over at Winnipeg’s 28-yard line.
The Stampeders got to Winnipeg’s five-yard line, but on third down and five, Mitchell’s pass to Eric Rogers popped out. After a review, the call on the field stood and it was a Calgary turnover with 2:49 remaining in the game.
Winnipeg took over and ran time off the clock until Paredes booted a 51-yarder with three seconds left.