I had hoped to post this earlier today, but found myself wirelessly challenged and therefore has to wait until I got back to Winnipeg this evening to do so. However, having to wait the best part of the day to post, hasn’t changed what I want to say. These Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the real deal. Heading into the bye week, they are the class of the CFL. Last night’s game against the B. C. Lions was just the latest evidence of this. This was their chance to show that they could win a trap game against a team that they should beat (regardless of the pregame betting line), and they did so handily.
Granted the Bomber offense was a little slow off the mark, but I think that was to be expected. B.C., coming off of its first win of the season, at home, with a new receiving threat in Arland Bruce was bound to come out with a lot of energy and fire to start the game. Thanks to a little shakiness on the part of the Bomber offense, the Lions ended up with a short field early and took advantage of it to score a touchdown. After that the game slowly turned the Bombers way, until the start of the third quarter at which point the Bombers put the hammer down and the left the Lions in their wake.
There are a lot of things that one can point to, to show that the Bombers are a different team this year than some of the past entries that have represented Winnipeg. The ability to succeed on defense without Doug Brown and Dorian Smith, for example. Or perhaps Justin Palardy’s ability to bounce back after a disappointing effort against Edmonton.
Instead, I would like to focus on one play before the end of the second half. That play being the Harris fumble and ensuing commotion. If you watched the game you saw T.J. Harris catch the ball only to have it stripped away. One Lions player batted the ball forward and then another fell on it, and after he fell on the ball, one of the Bombers landed on top of him and was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty.
I disagree with Matt Dunigan’s assessment that it was an obvious call, but that’s not the main point here. The main point here, is that over the past few years when something like that happened to the Bombers, the players would lose their cool everytime. Either they would mouth off to the referee and a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty would be followed by a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Or, two plays down the road they would hammer the quarterback way late, as if they wished to show the referee what unnecessary roughness really looks like. Following that, there would likely be a play breakdown on the defense that allowed a big play that turned the tide on the scoreboard. Not so last night, the Bombers simply sucked it up and got the job done on defense.
This, to me, is the one thing that will carry the Bombers far along the road towards the Grey Cup. It doesn’t only relate to penalties either. In the first half the Bombers weren’t getting a lot of pressure on Travis Lulay, yet the defense was still coming up with stops. Speaking of the defense, I”ve said before that the secondary doesn’t get enough credit, but after last night’s game, I’m actually willing to say the secondary is the best part of the Bomber’s D. With Simon, Bruce, who didn’t live up to his pregame talking, Gore and the guy who scored the late garbage time touchdown, the Lions have plenty of receiving talent, and the Bombers shut the down most of the game (despite the TSN announcers describing the Hefney v Simon matchup as a saw off, Hefney was definitely the winner).
So now the Bombers get two weeks to prepare to face the 4 and 3 Hamiton Tiger Cats. As much as the Edmonton and B.C. Games were measuring stick games of sorts. A win over Hamilton not only would give the Bombers a three game lead in the standings, it would in essence be a four game lead since the Bombers would own the season series as well. So, get well and rest up Bombers and then go show those Tiger Cats what getting eaten raw is really all about.