Not running away

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

You could call him the goat for the loss, but the truth is the Blue Bombers likely would not have been in position to tie Friday night's game against B.C. had it not been for the rushing exploits of Charles Roberts.

The Winnipeg tailback owned up to the responsibility of not wrapping the ball up when it was wrested from his arms at the Lions' one with 47 seconds left.

The Bombers were driving towards the tying points at the time -- needing a major and the two-point convert.

Roberts even admitted it was his fault when the Bombers failed to score on second-and-one at the B.C. one in the first quarter.

"We had a chance to punch it in early and ... I missed a call down there, an audible that (quarterback) Kevin (Glenn) made, and I found myself out there with no blockers because I went the wrong way," he said.

Roberts lost two yards and Winnipeg settled for a 10-yard Rob Pikula field goal.

BREAKOUT GAME

Those two fatal mistakes spoiled what was an otherwise breakout game of sorts for Roberts, who had been more or less shutdown the last few outings.

He rushed for only seven yards on six carries versus Toronto two weeks ago.

The 5-foot-6, 175-pound Sacramento State product was given the green light to run to the outsides and wound up with 104 yards on 19 carries against the Lions.

"The plays were still called inside but we changed up the blocking scheme a little bit where if I saw something outside, I was going to have enough room to get outside and I took advantage of that," Roberts said. "I still ran up the middle my fair share of times just to keep them honest.

"We're starting to get it back together and hopefully, next week, we'll be that balanced offence that we had at the beginning stages of the season and get back on track next week."

The Bombers need Roberts to be effective on the ground, especially in fall weather, for the offence to employ all of its weapons. It was not able to the last few games with Roberts being stymied.

The difference on Friday was the Bombers did not employ a two tight-end formation as often as they have in the past, a setup which tells the defence to expect the run.

"Being the type of ball carrier that he is, he can make you miss and that's what he does so very well," said head coach Doug Berry. "If Charles likes to run like that, we have to make sure that there's not so many people around the box that he has to make three people miss when sometimes, he just needs to make one."

B.C. running back Joe Smith, the CFL rushing leader, was held to 45 yards on 18 rushes, which means Roberts is now 59 yards closer to catching him.

"The rushing title really didn't play a part," said Roberts, 28. "I was just glad to find some running room out there. I'm not so worried about the rushing race as I have been in previous years.

"We've got a team right now that can take care of business. If we can eliminate the mistakes, then we're a Grey Cup contender. We're definitely the favourites coming out of the East, even with a loss. I don't think anybody's opinion will change on that. You know, the Battle of the Titans, they came out, we split the series between us and hopefully, we see them in the Grey Cup."

Winnipeg, which beat the Lions in the previous meeting, remains atop the CFL East with an 8-5-1 record regardless of what happens elsewhere this weekend.


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