O. J. Brigance and Elfrid Payton danced in the backfield yesterday to a beat only they could hear.
The celebration came in the middle of Baltimore's 57-10 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but it underscored a defensive effort that lasted for 60 minutes.
"We knew we needed to get pressure on Matt," Payton, Baltimore's rush end, said. "We used a lot of stunts and blitzes, and kept him inside the pocket."
Matt Dunigan, Winnipeg's record-setting quarterback, was under wraps all day. Sacked three times, he threw for a quiet 192 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
He was pounded early -- and often -- by Baltimore's rejuvenated pass rush. Brigance sacked Dunigan once and stripped him of the ball another time.
"We did pressure them," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said. "We couldn't let them block seven and have him hold the ball on us. We kept a steady stream of pressure. And you have to credit the backs for doing a good job in coverage."
The matchup of halfbacks Ken Watson and Charles Anthony against Winnipeg slotbacks Gerald Wilcox and Gerald Alpin went decisively to the defenders. Wilcox had seven catches and Alphin three.
"We took the seam away," Anthony said of Baltimore's coverage. "And we kept them off the field because the offense was clicking."
The Blue Bombers had the ball for six plays in the first quarter and didn't get their first first down until three minutes into the second.
"It was a new level for us to play at," said cornerback Irvin Smith. "You could see it, people flying around the ball.
"You hear about players being in a zone. Well, the whole team was in a zone today."
For the second straight week, Smith and linebacker Tracey Gravely had interceptions for Baltimore. The CFLs cashed them into two Donald Igwebuike field goals, one from 50 yards and one from 8.
Brigance and linebackers Matt Goodwin and Lester Smith had sacks.
"We had two linebackers covering backs," Matthews said. "When they [the backs] blocked, we blitzed."
Winnipeg, with one of the CFL's most potent attacks, had 189 yards in total offense.
The Bombers' only touchdown came after a dubious pass interference call against Karl Anthony in the end zone in the third quarter. Dunigan hit Wilcox for a 1-yard scoring pass on the next play.
Provided Baltimore beats Sacramento next week, the victory gives the CFLs home-field advantage through the playoffs and averted a possible rematch with the Bombers in Winnipeg on Nov. 20.
"We knew what we needed to do," said Payton, a former Bomber. "Nobody wanted to go to Winnipeg. They've got a ghost up there. They're hard to beat there in November. So let 'em come here."
NOTES: Igwebuike hit five field goals, two from 50 yards, which is his longest kick of the season. He is 16-for-17 since returning to the team Oct. 1 after being cut. . . . The CFLs sold nearly 600 playoff tickets at the stadium immediately after the game. . . . The CFLs had 12 plays of 15 yards or longer in the first half. Four were runs, eight passes. Five went for 22 yards or more. . . . Josh Miller punted twice in the game, averaging 43.5. . . . Baltimore had a 12-minute edge in time of possession.