Still work to do

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

You had to believe the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would come crashing back to Earth at some point.

Things just don't go that well for a prolonged period of time.

You'll remember that the Bombers were on some kind of streak of good fortune during the month of July, what with a miracle comeback and an almost unheard of shutout of a CFL opponent.

All that ended in a most unpleasant fashion last Friday as the Bombers played at home without injured star Milt Stegall and quarterback Kevin Glenn for most of the game and looked decidedly mediocre.

Oh, how quickly things can change.

The final result was a 26-11 road victory by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who entered the game with a 1-6 record and were the recipients of a 29-0 drubbing at the hands of the Bombers just a week before.

With backup quarterbacks Brad Banks and Russ Michna at the controls, the Bombers offence went nowhere and it was suddenly apparent that Grey Cup aspirations might have been a wee bit premature.

Clearly, this is a team that is not quite as deep as people thought and is just as prone to mistakes as every other team in the CFL.

In other words, they are human and far from perfect.

The Bombers unquestionably got a gift from the Tiger-Cats in the Hamilton part of the twinbill. There was no Jason Maas, no Josh Ranek, a junior college quarterback in the form of Kevin Eakin at the controls and a comedy of errors in the script as everybody from punter Pat Fleming to running back Corey Holmes was suffering from a collective brain cramp.

The Bombers are obviously not as good as they looked and the Tiger-Cats couldn't possibly be that bad, so you have to throw that one out the window.

You can certainly say that Winnipeg might have lost the game against Edmonton -- they did almost give it away after all, before Stegall's heroics -- and they were fortunate to get a couple of opportunities to beat up on the Damon Allen-less Toronto Argonauts earlier in the season. In their two biggest tests of the season, against the Montreal Alouettes, the Bombers fell apart in the second halves and showed they are not at that elite level just yet.

The loss to the Ticats last week not only indicated that the Bombers have some work to do, but they may yet have to fend off a challenge from the Tabbies, who played with heart and pride after an embarrassing performance only seven days before.

All in all, at 5-3, it has been a great start to the season for the Bombers, but they certainly could be 4-4 or worse if it weren't for a few fortunate breaks.

Yeah, we know they were bandied about as a team of destiny in the last edition of Home Turf and they very well may be, given their propensity for finding absurd but impressive ways to win.

We just think it's time to hold the phone for a while.

The loss last week indicated that they are just an injury or two away from being average. The performance of Banks and Michna certainly went a long way to proving the Bombers right in their decision to hand Glenn a contract extension. The dropped balls by Chris Brazzell only amplified Stegall's importance to the club.

Even the team's vaunted defence had some trouble with the Tiger-Cats, particularly bullish running back Ranek. The Tiger-Cats showed why so many teams hate back-to-back games against the same team. After four quarters of ineptitude in the opener, Hamilton finally figured out a way to move the ball. What's that old saying about the blind squirrel and the nut?

On the other side of the ball, as much as it looked like everything was falling into place after the win in Hamilton, in the return engagement it appeared there are still some holes to fill in Winnipeg, especially if injuries start to become a factor.

The signs are there that there may be chinks in the armour and now the Bombers have to face one of the better teams in the CFL -- the B.C. Lions -- on just six days rest.

The Lions have not played nearly as well as many people expected them to but with quarterback Dave Dickenson, sensational new running back Joe Smith and super receiver Geroy Simon, possess enough weapons to give any team fits.

Still, there is plenty of room for optimism in the Bomber camp and if they can get quickly back on track, the Hamilton home game will be nothing more than a bump in the road.

Every team not named the 1972 Miami Dolphins has had some of those.

It's safe to say Bomber fans should be prepared for a few more along the way this season.


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