Blue have right stuffs

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The Minister of Defence left the Alouettes without a prayer on two key short-yardage situations.

First, Winnipeg middle linebacker Barrin Simpson stuffed Montreal running back Jarrett Payton on third-and-one from the Winnipeg one early in the second quarter.

But the coup de gras came late in the second half. Simpson stopped Montreal quarterback Marcus Brady cold on third-and-short at Montreal's own 44.

'I have a knack'

Five plays later, placekicker Troy Westwood booted the winning field goal to give the Blue Bombers a dramatic 24-22 victory in the CFL Eastern semifinal at Canad Inns Stadium yesterday.

"Big-time players have to make big-time plays in big-time situations," said Simpson, who was surprised that the Als did not punt from their own territory. "That's fun. That's what the coaches and this organization expect. That's why they brought me here -- to make a crucial play in a crucial situation.

"The D-line had a great push right there and I just did what I have a knack of doing. I have a knack of getting over the top and making a play on the quarterback."

The front four obviously stood their ground on both plays.

"Those are hard to do, man, when you're a yard off the ball and you don't know the snap count and you don't know the play they're running," said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. "A lot of things have to go right for us to be able to stop that and you can't count on it happening every time. But ... we were able to put together a fantastic effort there and come out successful."

Cornerback Juran Bolden certainly appreciated the effort of those men in the trenches.

"Probably the biggest plays I've seen in a long time," he said. "I mean, two of 'em. Those boys are unbelievable, man. They pinned their ears back and went at it. They stuffed it."

Bomber head coach Doug Berry simply relishes whenever an opponent attempts to convert a short-yardage situation.

"I believe in defence all the way," he said. "I've been an offensive coach my whole life and I've always believed in defence. (Yesterday), we did it significantly. We did a great job of keeping them pinned down ... and of course, the third-down attempts where we stopped them were huge. We've made a lot of 'em. And they're momentum changers, every one of them. With 1:31-ish to go, we needed a momentum change.

"Our defence is as good as any defence in the league."


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