WINNIPEG -- In a game billed as a matchup between running backs Charles Roberts and Ricky Williams, it all came down to defence.
And Winnipeg made a case for its defence last night in shutting down Toronto's offence to win 16-9 in front of an announced crowd of 26,524 at Canad Inns Stadium.
The Argos dropped to 1-1, while Winnipeg, which has been shifted to the East Division this year following the demise of the Ottawa Renegades, improved to 1-1 in its home opener.
The Argos recorded 72 yards total offence, had only six first downs, gave up six sacks and had the ball for a mere 22:17. They came up short on a critical third-down-and-one gamble from Winnipeg's 38-yard line in the third quarter that clearly affected the outcome.
Both teams were determined to run the ball, but the Bombers did a better job of shutting down Williams than the Argos did of stopping Roberts - at least initially. Roberts had 133 yards on 32 carries, most of that in the first half in which he had 85 yards on 17 carries. Williams had only 14 yards on eight carries.
"If you want to run the ball in any league you have to develop the kind of rhythm on offence and they didn't allow us any kind of rhythm," Williams said. "It was their home opener and they're playing against me, so emotionally they brought it up a level and we had a tough time matching their emotion until later in the game and by then it was too late."
Quarterback Spergon Wynn, making his first start in place of the injured Damon Allen and his first start overall in four years, had trouble against the Bombers' attack. He was sacked six times. He completed only 13 of 25 passes for 94 yards.
"They did a good job of mixing up their tendencies," Wynn said. "They didn't revert back to things we had scouted and game planned. They were aggressive and they took it to us. They were the aggressor and usually you benefit when you're the aggressor."
Doug Berry, who had been hired in the off-season by Winnipeg after seven seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Alouettes, recorded his first victory as a head coach. The Bombers lost 27-17 to Montreal last week.
"You've played the top two teams in the East (back-to-back) the last two or three years and we've played 'em both neck to neck," Berry said. "I think we can show that we can play with anybody. People better know that Winnipeg, I think, is here to play defence and we're going to get the offence coming on a consistent basis. We'll keep improving there."
The Bombers scored on their opening drive mixing up a blend of runs using a fullback and a tight end and passes in a nine-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Roberts scoring on a three-yard dash.
The Argos scored their points on three field goals by Noel Prefontaine.