Run game goes bad

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

It could not have been a good sign when Bombers offensive lineman Alexandre Gauthier took the gold jersey out of his locker yesterday morning and saw the name bar on the back.

Above No. 66 it read GUATHIER.

When your own team spells your name incorrectly -- for the second time in two years, no less -- you know it's going to be a long day.

That's exactly what it was for Winnipeg's ground game.

The Bombers had 121 rushing yards overall, but most of it came in the fourth quarter when the Edmonton Eskimos were giving it up for free.

Throw in a mostly ineffective passing game, and Winnipeg's Grey Cup drought has now reached 18 years.

There was much talk going into the game that Winnipeg's run game was going to be the key. It was, after all, viewed as the main reason for the team's resurgence in the second half of the season.

"That was really the game plan," Gauthier said. "That was our strength, running the ball."

The Eskimos knew this and took it away -- despite having the worst run defence among the six playoff teams.

"We knew coming into this football game that if we did not stop the run we wouldn't have a chance," Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia said, "and that's where the focus was with our football club."

Eskimos defensive end Fred Perry, who had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, said his team was a step ahead all day.

"We knew we had to shut it down and make them one-dimensional and make Kevin (Glenn) beat us with his arm," Perry said. "We knew what they were going to run before they ran it. Everybody on the D-line was calling plays out before they ran it."

Although Fred Reid didn't do much in the first half, mustering only 23 yards on nine carries, the Bomber coaching staff stuck with him until late in the third quarter before finally deciding to give the ball to Joe Smith instead.

Smith, however, said it didn't matter who was hauling the rock.

"It probably wouldn't have been any different if I had been in the game," Smith said. "It was just due to the fact that they were getting off the ball and disrupting the lanes that we needed to run the ball."

On the other side of the ball, the Bomber defence allowed Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray to throw flares out to his running backs in the flats all day long. The fact that Esks tailback Calvin McCarty had a game-high seven catches wasn't a coincidence.

So why were the Eskimos running backs able to have so much room to manoeuvre?

"That's a good question," Bombers linebacker Ike Charlton said. "You'd have to take that up with (defensive co-ordinator Greg) Marshall."

Middle linebacker Zeke Moreno said the goal was to take away the deep pass option from Ray. They accomplished that, but ...

"In doing so, we were kind late in reacting to the flare in the flats," Moreno said. "We do have guys that are assigned to those routes and were just too focused about something else."

LATE HIT: The Bombers played yesterday without slotback Terrence Edwards, one of their three 1,000-yard pass catchers.

Edwards has been bothered by a rib problem all season long, and aggravated it two weeks ago in Montreal. He missed last week's regular-season finale as well.

"We certainly did miss Terrence Edwards out there," head coach Doug Berry said. "No question about that."


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