Bombers bumbling

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

REGINA -- They can't win on the road, their defence would have trouble stopping a snail right now, and some of their play calling is downright baffling.

The result is a Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that is almost toast in 2005.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who snapped a five-game losing streak Sunday when they slammed the Bombers 45-26 in the annual Labour Day Classic at Taylor Field, can deliver a crushing blow to the Bombers this Saturday at Canad Inns Stadium in the Banjo Bowl rematch.

"We're looking bad for a playoff spot, but we still got seven games left," Blue linebacker Ryland Wickman said. "You gotta be professional. You gotta go out and play as hard as you can every week. I don't give a ... I don't care what our record is. I don't care if we win any games.

"Everybody on this team better go out and play as hard as they can."

ROAD WOES

The Bombers, who have lost nine straight road games dating back to last season, are in the West Division basement with a 3-8 record, but they're only two points back of the third-place 'Riders (4-6) and Calgary Stampeders, who lost 25-23 to the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday and also sit at 4-6.

The 'Riders and Stamps, however, have already won their respective season series against the Bombers, and they both have a game in hand.

Winnipeg's close proximity to a playoff spot will not matter, however, if its defence continues its woeful ways.

The Blue and Gold's defensive dozen played well in the first half Sunday, but the Roughriders wracked up a whopping 188 rushing yards in the second half and 244 overall. Kenton Keith had 170 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries, including a 75-yarder for the game-clinching score in the fourth quarter.

Wickman said the 'Riders ran the same play "15 times" in the second half and the Bombers didn't stop it once.

That's a bad sign.

"I'm frustrated, especially when they run," Wickman said. "I don't like them running on us. I don't know.

"We're just going to have to go to the film and see what the hell they did in the second half to keep hitting the same run -- the same gap -- every time and fix it, because we gotta play them again in six days, so we need to get a lot better or else we're gonna get our ass kicked again."

Veteran defensive tackle Doug Brown, who's missed the past two games with a foot injury, looks 10 times more valuable to the team today than he did two weeks ago.

One also has to wonder what the loss of defensive co-ordinator Rod Rust on Aug. 20 has done to the Bombers, who have allowed 86 points in their last two outings.

"Rod is a great coach and everything, but Rod is gone now," Bombers cornerback Omar Evans said. "It has nothing to do with us playing. We still gotta go out there and play, no matter what game plan it is. We have to play.

"The players have to execute it. Nothing against coach Rust, but he was here the first time (when the 'Riders beat the Bombers 42-15 on June 25)."


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