Grey Cup plans on hold

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

About that trip to the Grey Cup the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had planned. A little something has come up.

Actually, it's come down, as in back down to Earth.

The team that talked such a good game all week didn't play one here last night, humbled 44-16 by, who else, but the Montreal Alouettes.

Now 0-2 against the Als, 3-0 against the rest of the CFL, Bombers head coach Doug Berry saw his old team expose a few weaknesses in his new one.

Unable to protect their quarterbacks and unable to keep their cool when it counted most, the Bombers hit the self-destruct button in their biggest test of the season, suggesting they're not nearly ready to run with the big dogs in the CFL East.

The extent of the beating imposed by the Als was such that you can't help but wonder how long the after-effects will last.

The loss of some key players to injury, especially along the offensive line, is one thing. The damage to the psyches of Team Terrific is another, altogether.

Let's be honest: the Als took these guys behind the woodshed and administered an old-fashioned whupping.

Complete with a few cheap shots, to be sure.

Remember Week 1, when the Alouettes accused the Bombers of late hits on quarterback Anthony Calvillo?

We can call it even after last night.

Tim Strickland's late helmet into the back of Kevin Glenn put the Bomber starter on the sidelines in the second quarter.

Backup Mike Quinn was promptly greeted by a Duane Butler helmet to his chin, knocking Quinn some time into next week.

Scream for penalty flags all you want, and no doubt the Bombers will be sending another video clip or two to CFL headquarters.

They might want to keep the tape and find out why the Als had free shots at their quarterbacks to begin with.

After the second one, Berry made like an O-line coach again, telling his patchwork front five about the importance of keeping the money man upright.

Despite the fact Glenn went back in, Berry's offence was woeful from that point on. In fact, after putting up 10 points on its first two possessions, the Winnipeg attack managed one field goal and a punt single over the final 57-plus minutes of the game.

And the punt single drew a hearty round of applause from the 28,000-plus, suggesting the cynics are alive and well in Bomberland.

Perhaps more disturbing was the Bombers meltdown, beginning midway through the third quarter, when this team lost its composure and the game at about the same time.

When these guys find the self-destruct button, they lean on it.

The defence was up first.

Taking five straight penalties, it helped the Als march down the field for the touchdown that made it 23-15, Montreal.

Your turn, special teams.

Albert Johnson III, who hasn't looked anything like the super rookie of 2000, couldn't find the handle on a punt return, and a few plays later it's a 15-point hole.

It only got worse. With penalties and a non-existent offence, it doesn't matter how good the defence is.

And as if they've never learned that complaining about penalties doesn't help, the Bombers kept digging themselves in deeper.

By the end of the third quarter, even Berry blew a fuse.

Yes, the stripes missed some calls and completely blew others.

I'd say the Bombers missed more assignments and blew more coverages.

And now, for the first time in this young season, they've got some serious adversity to deal with.

By the end of last night's game -- when defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall was flipping his middle finger across the field, we presume at Montreal boss Don Matthews -- they weren't dealing with it very well.


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