Chris Streveler figures it was entirely fitting he'd sneak into his first NFL game on a play similar to ones he executed to perfection north of the border — a keeper to sustain a scoring drive.
The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback ran for three yards on a third-down play to move the chains for Arizona in the third quarter of Sunday's matchup between the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. Arizona went on to score a touchdown and take a 17-10 lead en route to a 24-20 triumph in Week 1 of the NFL campaign.
"It was definitely really exciting, getting in, first carry and all that. It was kind of funny the way it happened. It was exactly like I was doing the wedge stuff up in Canada," Streveler said Monday, during a Zoom chat with Winnipeg media. "It was like, ‘All right, third and one, I’m coming in. Let’s hit this QB sneak-type thing.’ It was kind of eerily similar 'how I just ran out there and got the sneak and ran off.
"It's obviously a big deal for anyone to get into their first NFL game and get a little action, so it meant a lot to me and it meant a lot that I was able to contribute in a small way on such a big drive in the game."
The 25-year-old from Crystal Lake, Ill., spent two memorable seasons with the Bombers, helping the squad claim the Grey Cup last November, before signing a deal with the Cardinals in February. He made the team out of camp and backed up starting QB Kyler Murray in the season opener.
Streveler is the first former CFL quarterback to register an NFL statistic in 11 years, according to 3DownNation.com. The fact CFL supporters are following his every move is not lost on him, he said.
"The love from Canada means everything. But hearing things from my teammates and coaches, that means even more to me," he said. "Those are the guys you come into work with every day, the guys that know what you put into it. The fans see what you do on the field on game day but they don’t see the grind every day and all the work you put in."
"The love from Canada means everything. But hearing things from my teammates and coaches, that means even more to me." — Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, Chris Steveler
Streveler won the hearts of Bombers fans and the organization not just because he could bull his way for crucial gains in short-yardage situations. He was a more-than-capable fill-in when Matt Nichols went down in with injury during the 2018 and '19 campaigns, demonstrating he could throw the ball and be a serious running threat.
He registered 2,698 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes with the Bombers but also amassed 1,167 rushing yards — averaging 5.7 yards per carry — and 22 TDs on the ground.
"It’s obvious without that time, I wouldn’t be here. Coming out of college I didn’t really have any NFL looks and went right up there. So, obviously that time there gave me this opportunity down here," he said. "Just being up there it taught me how to be a professional, it taught me how to prepare, day in and day out, playing a long season against high-level players. That’s something that’s never lost on me and something I’m definitely appreciative of."
During the Grey Cup, Streveler backed up Zach Collaros but completed all three passes he attempted for 39 yards, including an 18-yard strike to Andrew Harris for a major score as Winnipeg defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in the 107th Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
"It's just going to remind me of all the good times I've had with dudes in that locker room, times up in Winnipeg." — Chris Steveler on getting his Grey Cup ring
"It's just going to remind me of all the good times I've had with dudes in that locker room, times up in Winnipeg," Streveler said. "Obviously, the run to the Grey Cup through the playoffs and everything like that, it was really special. But more than anything, I just kind of think about those teammates I had up there, great friends, coaches, guys that I've built lifelong relationships with."
Assistant sports editor
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