Grey Cup contender?
Based on the first half, not even close.
Based on the second half ... uh, maybe, but don't go booking those trips to Montreal in November just yet.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers looked perfectly putrid in the first 30 minutes of last night's CFL contest against the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium. They fell behind 28-0 in the first half before storming back and losing by a relatively respectable score of 38-24.
Hey, it could have been worse.
The Bombers, picked by more than a few pundits to challenge for the Grey Cup this season, fell to 0-2 and are alone in last place in the East Division. The Alouettes, under new head coach Marc Trestman, improved to 2-0, while the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats are 1-1.
"They can take these pre-season prognostications and throw them in the garbage," Bombers GM Brendan Taman said last night from Montreal. "... We're playing like the Grey Cup appearance (last year) has earned us wins. We're playing like we can just show up and win.
"The teams in this league are too good for that. We've learned two hard lessons already in our division."
The Bombers, who have never won the Grey Cup after starting at least a 16-game schedule with an 0-2 record, now face a critical home-and-home series with the West Division favourite B.C. Lions. The first meeting is Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium.
In the first half last night the Bombers couldn't stop Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo, needed a quarter and a half to generate a first down without the aid of a Montreal penalty, and had another special teams gaffe that led to an easy touchdown for the opposition.
Montreal led 31-7 at the break after Calvillo threw touchdown passes to four receivers -- Jamel Richardson (11 yards), Ben Cahoon (four), Kerry Watkins (18) and Danny Desriveaux (three).
Cahoon's touchdown grab was his franchise-record 55th, moving him past Peter Dalla Riva, and it came three plays after Bombers punter Alexis Serna fumbled a long snap deep in his own territory for the second straight game.
Charles Roberts' three-yard touchdown jaunt got the Bombers on the board with 1:25 left in the first half, but the Als marched down the field and got a 42-yard field goal from Damon Duval as the second quarter came to an end.
Bombers head coach Doug Berry must have said something stirring during the intermission, because the Blue and Gold got going in the third. Derick Armstrong caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Glenn, and then cornerback Jovon Johnson, who was an interception machine during training camp, picked off Calvillo and returned it 80 yards for another major that got the Bombers to within 10.
Winnipeg marched to Montreal's two-yard line five minutes into the fourth, but Berry, facing third-and-goal, had Serna boot a nine-yard field goal. That made it 31-24 for Montreal.
Then the comeback attempt stalled, as Calvillo had a rare 28-yard scramble to set up Avon Cobourne's one-yard touchdown plunge with 5:05 to go.
Taman believes his team's valiant comeback attempt means squat.
"We're judged on wins and losses, and we have zero wins. We have two losses," he said. "Yeah, we played better in the second half, but what does that get us? I'm not into moral victories."
Glenn completed 26 of 40 attempts for 313 yards and the touchdown to Armstrong, who had six catches for 92 yards.
Roberts had six carries for 11 yards, although the Bombers had to start throwing the ball early after falling behind. That leaves Blink with only 89 yards through two games.
Winnipeg lost three Canadians to injuries: starting left tackle Alexandre Gauthier and special teamers Jon Oosterhuis and Greg Bearman. They will be examined further today.