December 17, 2018

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Record: 10–8–0

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Blue Bomber Report (10–8–0)

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Bighill's leadership looms large on defence for Winnipeg

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS</p><p>The Blue Bombers celebrates Taylor Loffler's interception during Saturday's game against the Roughriders.</p>

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Blue Bombers celebrates Taylor Loffler's interception during Saturday's game against the Roughriders.

Where would the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence be without Adam Bighill? It’s a question that might scare fans, and thankfully one they don’t have to answer.

Because the reality is without No. 4 patrolling the field at middle linebacker, barking out calls to teammates and making big plays at big moments, it’s hard to imagine the kind of turnaround seen from this group from Week 1 back in June to Saturday’s 31-0 beat down over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Investors Group Field.

“It says that we’re coming together at the right time. I’ve talked all throughout the year about playing our best football come November and we’re starting to see that,” Bighill said after the game. “We’re eliminating those four or five plays that were real home runs against us, either by yardage or points. When you eliminate those plays, the games look a lot different. So it’s about us continuing to put in the same work, that same effort. It’s not easy to get these wins, and it takes everyone out here to do it.”

There is no denying it takes a full team effort to shut out an opponent in the CFL, nor does it happen all that often. In fact, you’d have to rewind the clock to a 29-0 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 28, 2006, for the last time the Bombers achieved such a feat. But even when everything seemed to be clicking for Winnipeg’s defence, it was Bighill who stood out.

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Where would the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence be without Adam Bighill? It’s a question that might scare fans, and thankfully one they don’t have to answer.

Because the reality is without No. 4 patrolling the field at middle linebacker, barking out calls to teammates and making big plays at big moments, it’s hard to imagine the kind of turnaround seen from this group from Week 1 back in June to Saturday’s 31-0 beat down over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Investors Group Field.

"It says that we’re coming together at the right time. I’ve talked all throughout the year about playing our best football come November and we’re starting to see that," Bighill said after the game. "We’re eliminating those four or five plays that were real home runs against us, either by yardage or points. When you eliminate those plays, the games look a lot different. So it’s about us continuing to put in the same work, that same effort. It’s not easy to get these wins, and it takes everyone out here to do it."

There is no denying it takes a full team effort to shut out an opponent in the CFL, nor does it happen all that often. In fact, you’d have to rewind the clock to a 29-0 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 28, 2006, for the last time the Bombers achieved such a feat. But even when everything seemed to be clicking for Winnipeg’s defence, it was Bighill who stood out.

The 29-year-old product of Montesano, Wash., began his day by stripping the ball from Roughriders receiver Kyran Moore, which was scooped up and returned 45 yards by Bombers dimeback Anthony Gaitor for the game’s opening touchdown. By the time the clock ran out in the fourth quarter, Bighill registered a team-high eight tackles, including three sacks, which was a personal single-game best.

"When you get a quarterback sack, it feels good," Bighill said. "You’re really taking the wind right out of them, and it’s demoralizing for your opponent when you’re just beating your man one-on-one and you’re winning."

With Saturday’s performance, Bighill now has 101 defensive tackles through 16 games, moving him into first place in the CFL. That position at the top could be short-lived, however, as Calgary’s Alex Singleton had 94 heading into a matchup with the B.C. Lions on Saturday night.

Either way, Bighill’s position as the top dog on the defence will remain intact, the respect for him coming from the coaching staff to the players he does battle with each week.

"There were some timely plays that if he didn’t make that play, it would have resulted in a pretty decent gain or a different outcome on those drives. So it wasn’t just the play or type of play, it was the time in the drive that he did it. He ended a few drives," Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said.

"What’s really important about Adam is he’s making guys around him better, too, when he’s bringing guys along with him. As he’s playing better and better football, guys are stepping up around him, too. That’s the key to more success on defence."

One of those guys is weak-side linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox, who has a front-row seat beside Bighill on the defence and credits him for how much he’s developed this year. He can’t imagine what the group would look like without him.

"What he did out there today… you see the things he does out there, but the little things you don’t see, that don’t go on the stats — that makes the biggest difference for us," he said. "Whether it’s making checks, making calls like he does, it goes way further than the tackles and sacks. He commands your attention and respect and we’re following him to the finish line."

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

Read full biography

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