After the storm

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers went from being battered by the Eskimos on Saturday to being battered by the elements yesterday.

And after a rain-soaked practice, players were still trying to shake off the effects of a 36-22 defeat that brought them back to earth with a thud.

Truth is, yesterday's deluge was nothing like the second quarter in Edmonton, a period in which the Bombers were soaked, 31-2, unceremoniously ending their three-game win streak and dropping them to 4-9.

"I don't think it's too tough to figure out a lot of times," linebacker Cam Hall said. "One big momentum swing ends up (starting) a landslide. Championship teams don't let stuff like that happen. And as the season has gone on, we've gotten better at keeping momentum and weathering storms."

That may be true, but Saturday the Bombers took on all kinds of water, in all areas of the ship.

Hall says it all began with Edmonton's successful fake punt and ensuing touchdown, and snowballed with a punt-return touchdown a minute and a half later.

"You can't even write momentum like that," Hall said. "It's too big to be able to make it up. You give up 30 points in one quarter, I mean, we didn't react well on any phase."

Head coach Doug Berry's challenge this week, with a critical game against the Toronto Argonauts Friday: fix something that broke in several different places.

"It'd be real easy (if it was) one position," Berry said. "But it was a malaise that touched on the special teams, it touched on offence and it touched on defence. There was a point where the defence couldn't stop them, the offence couldn't get a first down, the special teams were breaking down -- you name it, there was something wrong."

That included the work of kicker Alexis Serna, who missed another chip-shot field goal, dropping the rookie's success rate to a CFL-worst 23-of-38 on the season.

Serna bounced back with a solid practice yesterday, which, along with $1.50, might get you a cup of coffee at the local diner.

"We got out there in the rain, and from 39 to 49 he hits them all," Berry said. "It's not like he's not capable. It just befuddles me. He's a very talented kicker. I don't know how I'm maintaining the patience now."

Despite Serna's troubles in games, Berry will stick with him for the foreseeable future.

"If we had somebody that was significantly better, that would be the answer," he said, suggesting Warren Kean hasn't been accurate enough in practice.

"I don't think he's lost his confidence," Berry said of Serna. "He's not going to be bothered by it -- I mean, he should be. The point is it shouldn't affect his next kick."

GM Brendan Taman says game tape suggests Serna slipped on his miss -- not that that's an excuse -- but had a very good day punting. Taman has no immediate plans to bring in another kicker.

Generally, the Bombers are eager to write off Saturday's setback and focus on the Argonauts, a game which will all but decide the second and final playoff spot in the CFL East.

With four weeks remaining, the Bombers lead Toronto by two points, but Friday's winner will hold the edge in a tiebreaker, should the teams finish with the same points.

"This game was going to have the same importance, regardless," Berry said. "This is a huge tiebreaking situation that we've got to win."


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