Too little, too late

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Look at the bright side, Bomber fans. Your team found out last night just how far it has to go if it wants to end a 16-year Grey Cup drought.

How long a road that is depends on how you look at it.

Yeah, the Bombers scrapped and clawed to the end of a 26-20 loss to the defending champion B.C. Lions.

Heck, they were actually a yard away from the potential touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion in the final minute, when possible victory, or at least overtime, was ripped from their grasp.

Literally, from the grasp of running back Charles Roberts, who had the ball wrestled from his hands by Lions linebacker Otis Floyd as he fought for the end zone.

At halftime, or even five minutes into the fourth quarter, you wouldn't have predicted a nail-biter.

Like that stiff north breeze, though, the Bombers just wouldn't let up.

So sure, give the Bombers full marks for resiliency, a trait they've shown all year.

But if you're wondering why this team had to fall behind 19-4 in the first half, then 26-11 early in the fourth, before finding its game, you're not alone.

The Bombers appeared on the verge of implosion at one point, complete with a sideline skirmish that had disaster written all over it.

When two of your supposed defensive leaders, Juran Bolden and Kyries Hebert, are taking swings at each other instead of at the opposition, well, good luck with that.

It was late in the first half when these shenanigans occured, and if you were one of the shivering, rain-soaked fans who'd seen enough, we wouldn't blame you.

Recapping the first half, things weren't going too badly -- until the opening kickoff.

Proving that practising in the wind doesn't necessarily mean you know how to play in it, the Bombers let a short B.C. kick bounce around until the Lions recovered it on the Winnipeg 36.

TURNED INTO SIX

Six plays later, it turned into six for the visitors. Call it an early Thanksgiving gift or a turkey of a play.

Either way, it allowed the Lions to actually hold their lead in the first quarter, working against the wind.

It didn't help that the Bomber offence squandered its best chance by stalling on the one-yard line, when two Roberts carries netted minus-two yards. To which I have two things to say: quarterback sneak.

When the Leos got the wind for the second quarter, they did what you're supposed to do, and put up another 13 points.

That, we can only guess, is what sparked the Bolden/Hebert dispute.

Funny thing is, it might have been a dropped Winnipeg pass that turned around a potential B.C. rout.

It was in the dying minutes of the third quarter, the Bombers down, 19-4, when Kevin Glenn's pass bounced off the hands of receiver O'Neil Wilson -- and straight into the waiting arms of Terrence Edwards for a 35-yard touchdown.

Lucky? Absolutely.

But the Bombers used the momentum, and the wind, to make things very interesting in the fourth quarter.

After spotting the Lions another touchdown, creating a 26-11 deficit, a Glenn to Milt Stegall touchdown made it an eight-point spread, and the fans who'd stuck around through a miserable night got a good finish.

But among the questions this one left you with are, a) does this team know how to run a hurry-up offence?; b) can it get a yard when it absolutely has to?; and c) can it actually go an entire game without a major special teams screwup?

Turns out kicker Rob Pikula was fine.

Head coach Doug Berry's gamble, sitting out veteran Troy Westwood, didn't backfire at all.

But his team still made just enough mistakes to dig itself into a hole it couldn't get out of.

You can beat Hamilton that way.

But Hamilton won't be in the Grey Cup.


Photos