Bombers' ref-bashing a cop out

The Bombers had their chances to win the game against the Alouettes in spite of the poor...

The Bombers had their chances to win the game against the Alouettes in spite of the poor refereeing, but they didnít get the job done. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 PM ET

We was robbed.

Itís an all-too-common refrain from sports fans after a bad call goes against their team in a tight game.

Weíve heard it a lot around here in the days following the Blue Bombersí 44-40 heartbreaker against the Montreal Alouettes, Friday.

The refs stole two points, the feeling goes. The home side deserved to win.

There are even those who are convinced the CFL hates the Bombers ó and they arenít all nutbars.

Obby Khan, the intelligent, well-spoken Bomber centre, was convinced following Fridayís game the officials wanted the Alouettes to win.

While I canít for even a second get my head wrapped around that concept, I do understand the outrage over some of the questionable calls.

But to say the refs cost Winnipeg the game? Sorry, I donít buy it. Never have, never will.

Itís far too easy a cop out. A loserís crutch.

Because there will be questionable calls in every football game. Some will go against you, some for you.

The lousier the football team, the more it will seem the officials are killing it, because itís not good enough to overcome the calls that go against it.

Sure, there were some gawd-awful calls that went against the Bombers.

Two that stood out were pass interference on Jovon Johnson in the third quarter and an illegal contact call on Clint Kent in the fourth. Both produced Montreal first downs and led to touchdowns, the latter providing the game-winning points.

The controversial catch, no-catch, play came right after Kentís penalty, so it also contributed to the winning score.

Thatís 14 points the Als didnít deserve, right?

Not so fast.

The bad call against Johnson doesnít explain Bomber defensive end Odell Willis ripping the face mask from an O-lineman two plays later, giving the Als eight precious, red-zone yards. Nor does it justify receiver Andrew Hawkins getting behind the Winnipeg defence for the ensuing touchdown.

Just like the late flag on Kent and the replay ruling one play later didnít cause the Bombers to give up yet another long touchdown strike (offside or no offside) with 1:18 to go.

In case you hadnít noticed, the Winnipeg defence yielded 477 yards passing, not 477 yards in penalties.

Of Montrealís 30 first downs, five were by penalty, leaving another 25 that had something to do with the Bomber D and the incredible precision of the Montreal attack.

In short, we wouldnít be having this discussion if the Bombers didnít play Thanksgiving turkey to Anthony Calvilloís carving knife.

Then thereís the Winnipeg offence.

Trailing by one, and given 1:18 to put together a field goal drive to win the game, the Bomber attack didnít. It went three-and-out.

Things might have been different at crunch time, too, had the Bombers not allowed Montreal to jump out to a 10-zip lead,

If none of that is good enough for you, stripes haters, then Iíve got one final argument.

Letís say the refs cost the Bombers Fridayís game, just for the sake of discussion.

Had this team not put itself in such a desperate position, at 3-8, it could swallow the loss and move on.

But the Bombers earned the precarious position theyíre in. A position where a wacky bounce, a fluke play ó or, yes, a bad call or two ó can put their post-season chances on life support.

Much like being a good team will minimize the chances of a blown call costing it a game, being a good team will minimize the chances of one game costing it a playoff spot.

The Bombers had lots of opportunities to bank some extra points in the first 11 weeks, only to fritter them away like a chronic gambler blowing his last few loonies.

So bash the whistle-blowers all you want, if it makes you feel good.

But save a little venom for the other culprits in this equation.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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