Bombers' D stands tall

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:54 PM ET

TORONTO -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were looking for a spark from quarterback Michael Bishop yesterday.

They got it in the first quarter, but it was their dominant defence the rest of the way that stole the show and gave the Bombers a much-needed 13-12 win over the Toronto Argonauts in front of 23,821 spectators at sunny and muggy Rogers Centre.

The Bombers snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 2-3, while the Argos dropped to 2-3.

Winnipeg forced a whopping seven turnovers, including four interceptions off Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph and one on special teams.

"It's an outstanding group," Bombers head coach Mike Kelly said of his defence.

"This was a character win for us. Our defence has set the tone as to what kind of character this team has. They exemplify great grit and determination, and they never give up. It's just fun to watch."

It was a friendly bounce from the football gods that preserved the win.

Toronto kicker Justin Medlock's wind-aided 57-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds remaining had enough distance, but clanged off the left upright.

"I didn't think it was going to get there, I really didn't," Kelly said.

"I asked (returner) James Johnson at the end, 'Did you think he was going to make it?' He said, 'I couldn't believe the ball kept carrying.' "

Medlock actually made a 47-yarder on the previous play, but the whistle had blown because holder Kevin Eiben took a time-count violation for failing to call for the ball before the 20-second clock ran out. The Argos had a timeout remaining, too.

Since it happened in the last three minutes of the half, it was a 10-yard penalty instead of the usual five. Despite kicking from beyond midfield, Medlock almost gave the Boatmen the miracle win.

The Bombers, however, made no apologies for the triumph.

"I'll take any win," Kelly said. "When you're an ugly guy like me, if you even get a date that's a big deal. No, any win is good. I don't care what they look like."

Siddeeq Shabazz had two interceptions, giving him a team-leading four, with Neil McKinlay and Ian Logan snagging the others.

Logan, McKinlay and Romby Bryant forced fumbles, and Ike Charlton, Barrin Simpson and Don Oramasionwu recovered them.

"Everybody takes their turn making plays," Simpson said. "Neil McKinlay came in. He probably played five plays, and on two of them he caused turnovers. It was big."

Bishop, who was signed a week ago to kickstart Winnipeg's sputtering offence, completed 16 of 30 attempts for 213 yards, with one interception and a 22-yard touchdown strike to Terrence Edwards in the first quarter.

Bishop's lack of football conditioning showed in the second half when he completed five of 13 passes for 40 yards, but he'll take the victory against his former team that he felt didn't always treat him right.

"It feels good to get the win, but right now I need to sit in a tub of ice," Bishop said in the raucous Bomber locker-room. "From the waist down I'm done."

KIRK.PENTON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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