Als back on top

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Call it tit for tat. The finger returned, without the obscene gesture.

Only for the Montreal Alouettes and head coach Don Matthews, it's their index finger, not the middle one, high in the air. As in, they're No. 1.

Yet another game with first place in the CFL East on the line, and yet another Winnipeg Blue Bomber effort coming up short.

This time it was 23-20, Montreal, here last night.

Getting any easier to stomach, Bomber fans?

Probably not.

Not with your team continuing to drive you crazy, both with things it does and things it doesn't.

It's true, it wasn't a blowout, like the last time these teams met here to wrestle for top spot in the division.

You remember how that one ended, back in July, with Bomber boss Doug Berry and defensive coordinator Greg Marshall saluting Matthews with their middle digits.

At the time, Berry suggested he'd run up the digits on the scoreboard, too, if he got the chance.

Don't hold your breath. Not with this Bomber offence.

First quarter, first Bomber drive, and all appeared well. But we've seen that before, too: the Winnipeg offence marching down the field for a game-opening touchdown.

It's what follows that leaves you shaking your head.

While the Als were scoring 23 points, the Bombers didn't get a sniff of the Montreal end zone again until past the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Three-yard passes on 2nd and long. Passes thrown into the hands of the wrong team. A running game that's about as consistent as tapioca.

I can see ignoring running back Charles Roberts if the passing game is going great guns.

But with quarterback Kevin Glenn completing just nine passes for 89 yards in the first half, shouldn't Roberts get the ball more than four times in the final 30 minutes?

I know, the little guy wasn't finding much room, after a nice start. Guess what that says about which team made better adjustments as the game went on?

The Bombers wouldn't even have managed another touchdown if it weren't for several Alouettes brain cramps in the fourth quarter, including a botched punt return by Avon Colbourne and a brainless taunting penalty by Davis Sanchez that kept the Winnipeg drive alive.

With Roberts a non-factor and the Als controlling a limping Milt Stegall, the Bomber offence was all receiver Derick Armstrong, who might have been worth the price of admission on his own.

We probably should have expected this.

Coming off the high of a win in Montreal, the team that's been addicted to inconsistency all season just couldn't resist sticking a needle into its own arm one more time.

The Als, already reeling with six straight losses coming in, were the more desperate team, and it showed.

Matthews spent the first half pulling whatever tricks he could find out of his bag, including two fake kicks in his team's opening drive.

If that wasn't enough, he sent a defensive lineman, Anwar Stewart, out for a long bomb in the second quarter.

All three plays worked, and the Als had an 18-10, first-half lead and a noticeable boost in self-esteem.

Meanwhile, Berry and his staff couldn't find a way, tricky or otherwise, to spark their team.

It didn't help that Glenn was, for the most part, brutal. This was not the kind of game in which you want your quarterback coming up cold.

No. 5 did nothing to convince anybody that he can play his best when it matters most.

And when stopping the Als mattered most, the Winnipeg defence couldn't.

This time it was the Montreal offence that shoved the ball down the Bombers' throats, the opposite of last week.

Tit for tat.

Montreal back on top. The Bombers looking up.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


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