Ticats fall to Bombers

Blue Bombers Chis Garrett, Glen January and Buck Pierce celebrate Pierce's TD during Canadian...

Blue Bombers Chis Garrett, Glen January and Buck Pierce celebrate Pierce's TD during Canadian Football League game between Hamilton Tiger Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Hamilton, October 7, 2011. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 PM ET

In the seasonís biggest game, the Ticats would come up short.

With so much to be gained and so many gains that awaited, Friday nightís letdown once again exposed these Ticats as a team incapable of making the jump from average to good with the potential to be great.

As it was last year and the year before, the Ticats are neither a winning team and neither are they a losing team.

They just lurch, which is hardly inspiring, even at a time when so many had been convinced a break through would finally be reached.

And now with a road game in Montreal up next, it seems likely the Ticats will once again be in the post-season, only to meet a similar fate with an early exit.

Thereís still time, but losing 33-17 to Winnipeg does not bode well.

The Bombers, who didnít beat themselves, play very good defence and just know how to make plays when they line up on offence.

Three times this season the Bombers have knocked off the Ticats and each game Kevin Glenn has been picked off.

When Glennís errant throw was returned for a pick six by Brandon Stewart, the hook arrived that saw Quinton Porter inserted at quarterback.

After a brief show of offensive punch by the toothless Ticats, Winnipeg quickly took back momentum by scoring a touchdown to officially put the game out of reach.

Resilient and efficient, the Bombers will battle Montreal for first place because Hamilton showed no intention Friday of wanting to be in that discussion.

So explosive and so creative in back-to-back weeks, both wins, the Ticats offence an awful lot like Torontoís attack, which isnít good considering how inept the Argos have been all season.

When they began the game last week in Toronto, the Ticats aired it out on the gameís opening play, a deep ball that would be picked off but it did show how aggressive Hamilton would be that night.

Friday night, with the fans picking the first pass play and run play, two plays that produced positive gains, the Ticats were tentative, almost afraid to spread the field.

Granted, Winnipegís defence can cover the field and its front seven will stuff the run and apply pressure, but it was inexcusable how passive the Ticats approached the evening.

In the first half, there was nothing outside of the first two plays, nothing but incompletions, long looks and a growing frustration among the fans that would result in booing.

Even after a 47-yard punt return by Marcus Thigpen would give the Ticats ideal field position at Winnipegís 37, there was no imagination, only lack of execution that led to a field goal on the final play of the half.

Winnipeg, in contrast, was very balanced, using the run to set up the pass, but there was no killing instinct by the visitors, who led 12-3 at intermission.

The gameís first major, a one-yard plunge by backup quarterback Alex Brink, was abetted by two Hamilton penalties.

When second-down conversations came up short, when throws for intended receivers fell short, itís not surprising Hamiltonís defence spent too much time on the field.

It was only a matter of time before Hamiltonís ineffectiveness on offence would bite the home side.

When nothing could be generated, field position began to tilt in Winnipegís favour.

And early in the third quarter, the Bombers would extend their lead when Pierce found Greg Carr on a 59-yard catch and run that gave Winnipeg a 19-3 lead.

The play was designed to get a first down, a quick slant by Carr who caught the ball in stride.

When Jason Shivers came over from his safety position, the one-time Argo could not wrap up Carr in the open field.

PLay calling by committee

The fans had their say and it must be said that their play-calling worked.

On a night of firsts, the Ticats organization asked its fan base input on all things related to Friday nightís visit to the Hammer by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. From the music being blared for the pre-game player introductions to the song list used by the cheerleaders to the actual plays from scrimmage, it was unofficial fan night.

When it came to the play-calling, a total of eight plays, four passing, four rushing, from the teamís playbook were presented to the fans, who were then asked to vote on which one they wanted to see executed on the teamís opening possession.

And so it would begin with an opening-game sequence that saw quarterback Kevin Glenn bootleg to his right and spot Chris Williams on an underneath route that produced 10 yards.

On the next play, the fansí choice for a run play was called, a handoff to Avon Cobourne, who ran to the right side of the line of scrimmage for a six-yard gain.

Given what was at stake for the Ticats, there were some who raised concern at the timing of the initiative.

The idea was hatched during the off-season and presented to head coach Marcell Bellefeuille, who quickly endorsed it. He continued to support it in the days leading up to Friday night.

ďThis is the most interactive pro sports league in North America and the fans have the most access and are respected and care about it, so why not be on the cutting edge of it?Ē said Bellefeuille. ďWhy not be in the group that does something different, that ingratiates its fans more? I think itís positive.Ē

Turns out it was positively productive.


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