November 28, 2011
‘Shoulda, coulda, woulda don’t count’
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER — Just as a tiger can’t change its stripes, neither could the anemic Winnipeg Blue Bomber offence in the biggest game of the year.
The CFL leader in two-and-outs all season, the Winnipeg attack didn’t exactly eat up the real estate in the first three quarters of the Grey Cup game, and that, more than anything, cost the Bombers a shot at a victory.
“We didn’t give our defence any field position in the first quarter,” guard Brendon LaBatte said. “After that, it seemed like we were either two-and-out, and when we did get into the red zone we had to settle for threes and couldn’t get into the end zone. If we could have put sevens on instead of threes, we’re in that ball game.”
After a first down on its first possession, the Bomber offence didn’t get another until there were less than five minutes to go in the second quarter.
It was the same story to open the second half: an early first down, then three series without moving the chains.
Through three quarters, head coach Paul LaPolice’s offence generated just seven first downs, as the Lions built a 24-9 lead.
“This is something they’ve done to a lot of teams in the last couple weeks,” LaPolice said. “They played how we’ve seen them all year, which is a physical, defensive front.”
Running back Chris Garrett was nowhere to be found, carrying the ball just eight times for 26 yards, a week after he lugged it 29 times for 190 yards.
“We didn’t get Garrett on track,” offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi said. “Would have liked to have done that. Buck (Pierce) was a little bit uneasy in the pocket, but after a while he settled down. We knew it was going to be tough like that. It was a matter of making a play.”
It was the Lions who made it: rookie Kierre Johnson getting behind Jonathan Hefney for a 66-yard touchdown to end the third quarter, B.C. up, 24-9.
“That broke it,” Barresi said. “We knew we had to hit a big play somewhere along the line. And then get Chris working a little more.”
Barresi, who doesn’t call the plays (LaPolice does), thought Pierce missed a few throws but hung in there in the face of a ferocious B.C. defence.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Barresi said. “When you get here you’ve gotta take advantage and make the most of everything that happens. There’s a lot of things I’d love to have back here. But you don’t get that chance. You don’t get mulligans.”
Obby Khan put it another way.
“Shoulda, coulda, woulda don’t count,” the Bomber centre said.
Receiver Terrence Edwards has been forced to say that too many times in his career.
“All of them hurt. I’ve played in four and I haven’t won one,” Edwards said. “You never know when you’ll get this opportunity again. Back to the drawing board.”