WINNIPEG - The bye week isnít going to be very much fun for the Bombers and especially their coaches and managers, who need to come up with some answers.
The Blue and Gold struggled mightily on offence, and the Alouettes did just enough when they had the ball to secure a 36-26 triumph at a sold-out Canad Inns Stadium on Friday night.
The Bombers fell to 1-5 and are now four points back of the Alouettes (3-3), Toronto Argonauts (3-2) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-2) in the East Division. The Bombers are also down 2-0 to the Als in their four-game season series.
The Bombers now have a week off and donít play again until Aug. 16 against the Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium.
Despite the scoring surge in the fourth quarter, it was a night to forget for the Bombers. They havenít won back-to-back games since last August, and serious questions need to be asked during the bye week before it really gets ugly.
The Alouettes led 21-3 going into the fourth quarter, but the Bombers got their first touchdown of the night after Chad Simpsonís impressive 36-yard catch and run that was followed by Alex Brinkís 11-yard TD strike to Cory Watson.
Sean Whyte kicked a punt single to make it 22-10, and the Bombers had some momentum. Their drive stalled, but it should have continued when Rod Davis absolutely drilled Brink with the crown of his helmet. There was no call on the play.
But thatís not why the Bombers lost. They just donít have the talent to compete right now, and on Friday night they also got out-coached. Brink couldnít get anything going in the first three quarters, yet head coach Paul LaPolice stubbornly wouldnít go to backup Joey Elliott to get a spark.
When Brady Browne went down with an ankle injury early in the fourth, it caused chaos in the secondary. They Bombers were confused, so Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo took advantage and hit Jamel Richardson with a 59-yard touchdown toss to put the game out of reach. Brink scored on a one-yard run with 2:41 to go and hit Chris Matthews with a two-point conversion pass, Montrealís Victor Anderson scored on a two-yard dash, and Brink rounded out the scoring with a 13-yard TD toss to Clarence Denmark and a two-point convert toss to Cory Watson with no time left.
The Alouettes led 15-3 at the half, and they extended that lead by three late in the third when Whyte kicked a 19-yard field goal.
Then disaster struck for the Blue and Gold. They asked the Alouettes to kick off, but Whyteís boot stayed up in the light breeze and Denmark badly misplayed the kickoff. Brandon London recovered on Winnipegís 35-yard line.
The Bombers defence held once again, however, forcing Whyte to kick a 27-yard field goal with one minute to go in the third. Whyte also booted a 17-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to give the visitors an 11-0 lead.
Justin Palardy got the hosts on the board with a 33-yard field goal, and then Whyte accidentally hoofed a punt into the end zone to make it 12-3 midway through the frame.
The Bombers defence gave up a huge completion to S.J. Green but then kept the Alouettes out of the end zone, forcing Whyte to kick a 32-yard field goal that made it 15-3.
It poured before the contest and during the pre-game introductions, but the sun came out midway through the first quarter and the wind died down.
The Bombers had just 12 yards of offence in the opening quarter, and Alouettes running back Brandon Whitaker, who had 235 combined yards in their first meeting on July 6, continued his terrific play against the Blue and Gold. He finished with 179 combined yards before leaving with an injury early in the fourth quarter. The Bombers said they were going to focus on Whitaker, but they couldnít contain him.
Richardson caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Calvillo in the first quarter, and Whyte booted a punt single to open the scoring.
Calvillo completed 17 of 29 attempts for 368 yards and two touchdowns. Brink was good on 25 of 39 attempts for 311 yards and two touchdowns.
Fridayís game had a capacity crowd of 29,533, which is a franchise-record nine in a row dating back to last season. Itíll be interesting to see if enough fans still believe enough in the team to make it 10 straight.