Defence takes blame

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Whenever the Winnipeg offence malfunctions, it seems, excuses are made.

But when the Blue Bombers underperform defensively, the players blame themselves.

The Bomber defenders were kicking themselves after allowing the Calgary Stampeders to take a 23-3 lead in the first half of last Saturday's CFL game. And never mind that the offence only managed three points.

"We gave up too many big plays defensively and they had too many plays with too many yards," linebacker Barrin Simpson lamented after the match. "And we didn't make enough big plays to get it done."

The Bombers, who still lead the league in takeaways, only had one interception versus Calgary. That came in the second half when the defence improved dramatically, allowing only one touchdown after Calgary recovered a fumble.

"We realized we didn't play well enough in the first half -- offensively, defensively or on special teams," Simpson said. "So, we came out with the fire that we should have had in the first half. Give them some credit, they made some plays. They came out with fire but I really feel that we should have won that game.

"It was a very disappointing day. We are a better team than what we showed."

LONG WAIT: The Winnipeg offence was forced to wait to get on the field after Calgary recovered a fumble on a kickoff after its first field goal of the game and when the Bombers did get the ball for the first time, they went two-and-out.

"We had the same gameplan (in the second half) but we didn't have the ball for half the first quarter," said head coach Mike Kelly. "We had a good feel for what they were doing and wanted to counteract that. We just didn't have that many opportunities to get our hands on the ball and when we did, we certainly didn't execute as well as we did in the second half."

YB-SMACK: Not only did RB Yvenson Bernard rush for 54 yards on six carries, the rookie had the smack of the match when he laid out Calgary linebacker Shannon James with a devastating block on a Fred Reid run.

"He's a good running back," Kelly said. "He's a good football player and he really helps out on special teams, too. He can take the ball out of the backfield and do something with it in open space ... That was a nice little combination, having Fred and Bernard in there."

Bernard replaced running back Lavarus Giles in the lineup for the second straight game.

"Fred loosened them up for me," Bernard said. "The offensive line was fired up and got things going ... I was having a great time on special teams. That was just a bonus (to run ball)."

Bomber offensive lineman Glenn January was encouraged by the ball carriers.

"You don't really have to give them a lot of room," he said. "They're pretty impressive players and if we make the holes, they're going to get some big gains."

Reid, by the way, now leads the CFL in rushing yards with 486 on 79 carries.

DVD LAUNCH: Bomber Hall-of-Famer Milt Stegall will be on hand to both launch and autograph his Legacy DVD at The Sun Centre this Thursday, 5-7 p.m. The DVD will be previewed at that time. The Bomber Store will be selling the DVD that night. For more info, contact the Bombers.


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