HAMILTON -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are coming home for a while, and they're feeling better than they have in years.
The Bombers took advantage of a hip pointer injury to Hamilton quarterback Jason Maas, forcing five turnovers, recording five sacks and embarrassing the Tiger-Cats 29-0 last night in front of 27,027 disgruntled fans at hot and sticky Ivor Wynne Stadium.
BOMBERS 29 TICATS 0
It was Winnipeg's first shutout in almost 18 years. The last time they accomplished the feat was on Sept. 24, 1988, when they blanked the Ottawa Rough Riders 31-0 at Landsdowne Park.
"That's the ultimate high right there," Bomber linebacker Barrin Simpson said. "That really puts the icing on the cake, on top of a win, that we shut them out. What more can we say? That's exciting."
"You just don't get shutouts in this league," added head coach Doug Berry. "You just don't get them. I mean, somebody's going to get a single or something."
The Bombers have won two straight, they're 5-2 overall, they're 3-1 on the road, and they play their next three games at home.
In other words, life looks pretty good right now if you wear Blue and Gold.
"It hasn't been this good since maybe 2002," said Bombers running back Charles Roberts, who got out of a minor slump with 21 carries for 129 yards and a one-yard touchdown run. "We had some ups and downs in 2002, but the schedule's working out in our favour now.
"The league set it up for us to fail, you know what I mean, and we've overcome those obstacles. Now the schedule favours us.
"We've got some home games, a lot of home games coming up in the month of August, and we're just gonna keep on pushing."
Hamilton, which fell to 1-6 and tumbled further into the East Division basement, meets Winnipeg again on Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium.
The Tabbies had better hope Maas gets better quickly, because backup Kevin Eakin was, in a word, dismal. He threw three interceptions (Robert Bean, Donnavan Carter and Omar Evans were the lucky recipients) and completed only 10 of 24 passes for 64 yards.
Hamilton managed 106 yards of net offence.
Just how bad was it for the hosts last night, besides the relentless booing that the home fans sent their way? Well, the last time the Tiger-Cats got shut out at home was Oct. 8, 1951, when Toronto beat them 10-0.
The closest Hamilton got to the end zone last night was Winnipeg's 35-yard line.
"You can't play in this league and play offence like that," said coach Ron Lancaster.
Berry said the fact Eakin was playing quarterback won't take away from his team's win.
"I still believe we did it against a good football team," he said.
The Bomber offence, meanwhile, had great field position for most of the night, and it turned three of the defence's turnovers into 13 points while controlling the ball for more than almost 38 minutes.
Quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 18 of 31 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Graeme Bell added a four-yard touchdown catch, and Chris Brazzell hauled in a two-yard score for the Bombers, who led 22-0 at halftime. Kicker Troy Westwood added 21 and 23-yard field goals, and a pair of singles.