Through 15 games, we've learned an awful lot about this year's edition of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- most of it, well, kind of awful. I mean, we're used to this team hitting six wins by mid-August or so. And the playoffs? That's usually a done deal by Thanksgiving.
But if there was one game that was going to tell us where this version of the team stands, whether there's any reason for fans to hope, it was this one against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last night.
When you can't beat a team with a losing record at home, when it counts most, you don't deserve a playoff spot.
When, on a gorgeous evening in October, your offence doesn't score a touchdown until there's six minutes left, you shouldn't be playing with the big boys in Montreal or B.C. in November.
And when you take the number of dumb penalties and make the number of mistakes the Bombers made last night, well, the only thanks Bomber fans should be giving this weekend is a great big thank-you that it will all be over in three weeks -- without the usual post-season heartbreak.
Snuffs out chances
Here's what we learned in a 20-13 Hamilton win that all but snuffs out Winnipeg's playoff chances.
Quarterback Kevin Glenn, getting a taste of his first high-pressure start as a Bomber, and playing with a banged-up shoulder, to boot, still has a ways to go.
The 25-year-old looked every bit his age, from his first pass of the game -- right into the arms of Hamilton's Airabin Justin.
A series later, Glenn lost the handle while scrambling -- it was ruled an incomplete pass -- before under-throwing a wide-open Milt Stegall during a blitz by the Ticats defence.
By half-time, he'd generated a mere five first downs.
Yes, he finished with a respectable 255 yards, but when you don't have finish, your team usually is.
The rest of the offence had some questions to answer, too.
Was Stegall's apparent resurgence a one-game wonder?
Could receiver Robert Gordon, back in the lineup because of an injury to young Derrick Smith, still be a key contributor, at age 36?
And how would this much-maligned offensive line hold up against the CFL's most ferocious defensive front?
The answers: apparently, who knows, and not bad.
More importantly, this game was going to tell us plenty about the Winnipeg defenders.
We'd find out if the B.C. and Montreal offences were simply that good, or if the Bomber pass defence is, indeed, softer than a cotton puff.
By half-time, the dirty dozen was on pace for another 500-yard yield. And while they held quarterback Danny McManus in check much of the second half, overall there were too many breakdowns at critical times.
As for the run defence, Troy Davis romped for 130 yards, so I guess the defence did treat this like a playoff game.
Perhaps most importantly, Week 16 was going to tell us a little something about the character of this team.
It might be cliche to say the team that wants it more comes out on top, but it's often true.
The Bombers failed this test, miserably.
A goal-line stand by the defence to end the first half should have been a rallying cry for the offence in the second.
Instead, Glenn and Co. managed three third-quarter points.
Keith Stokes showed a ton of heart by coming back from one of the most hellacious hits we've seen in years to score Winnipeg's only major. But that was negated by his ridiculous TD celebration -- pulling a magazine from the goal-post padding and pretending to read all about it.
That was one of 16 penalties that cost the Bombers 139 yards.
So read all about it, indeed, Blue Bombers.
Your headline today: It's all over.