November 28, 2011
Bombers offence disappoints again
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - So often over the last eight or nine years, the questions for the defence in the Bomber locker-room have been about how the offence could have helped them out a bit more.
That was the case again on Sunday night, and this time it was after the toughest loss a CFL team can have.
The Bombers fell 34-23 to the B.C. Lions in the 99th Grey Cup, and the defence held them in it as long as they could until falling apart in the fourth. It wasn’t one of Winnipeg’s best defensive performances, mind you, but the offence did little once again, managing just seven first downs through three quarters.
The offence is something that will have to improve before the Bombers open a brand new stadium in 2012. Once again, however, Winnipeg’s defensive players weren’t leaving their offensive teammates out to dry after Sunday’s loss.
“We could’ve played better,” said defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke, who will pursue head coaching opportunities in the off-season. “I wasn’t happy with how we started. I think too many guys’ heads were spinning with excitement of being here. Then we settled down and played better.”
The Bombers trailed only 17-9 late in the third when Jonathan Hefney, the team’s pass knockdown leader this season, got beat by Lions rookie Kierrie Johnson for a 66-yard touchdown that broke the game open.
“It was really no good route that he ran,” Hefney said. “He didn’t, like, kill me. He threw the ball deep, I cramped up a little bit, couldn’t really get there. I still got my hand on the ball. He made a good catch.
“It happens. You could probably count one or two times that it happened to me this year. I got beat on a route finally. It happens. I’m a DB. I’ll forget about it in the morning.
“… We know that we like to be on the field the whole game, but it was just a different climate today and it looked like it wore us down.”
The Bombers had trouble getting any pressure on Lions quarterback Travis Lulay in the early going, but they started getting in his face a bit more as the game progressed. The defence was giving the Bombers a chance until Johnson’s touchdown broke open the game.
“We had two unfortunate drives,” Burke said. “One was the one in which they hit the long touchdown pass. We just played that very poorly with man coverage and then our post player was nowhere to be seen.
“But the thing that killed us is we had them in a second-and-10 the player before and Odell (Willis)jumps offside. All of a sudden we’re back playing man and we’re tired. Then the next drive after that we just played extremely poorly.”
It was on that drive that the Lions marched down the field and took a 31-9 lead on Arland Bruce III’s six-yard touchdown grab.
“We hung in there for quite a while,” Burke said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win, and you gotta give credit to them. They’re a good team.”