Turning up the wick

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Good timing.

In the wake of the Adam (Pacman) Jones firestorm and Saskatchewan's signing of former Winnipeg kick returner Jason Armstead, Jovon Johnson had perhaps his best game as a Blue Bombers returner on Sunday.

Johnson returned two kickoffs for 47 yards, four punts for 42 yards and almost broke a missed field goal return for a touchdown against the Roughriders in the Labour Day Classic.

"I went with what the coach called," said Johnson, who returned it for 51 yards before being tackled by Saskatchewan placekicker Luca Congi. "I should have stayed outside. I probably would have scored. But I thought going over the top, guys could block them out and I could squeeze inside. It didn't happen that way. They stopped it. It was a big return. It was a momentum-shifter at the time but then, we turned the ball over and it doesn't matter."

Saskatchewan linebacker Tad Kornegay picked off Michael Bishop two plays later and the Riders converted that into a touchdown that gave them a 24-14 lead heading into the final quarter.

DEFENDER LAMENT: Johnson was among many Bombers defenders blaming themselves for allowing the Roughriders to score TDs on their first two possessions of their 29-14 victory.

"We've got to start faster as a defence," he said. "They got up on us early, then we came out in the second half and played the way we're supposed to play. But those things aren't going to cut it. As a defence, we've got to start faster.

"We know what we've got to do and the good thing about the situation is that we get a chance to see them again next week. So, we'll go back to the drawing board, get corrections made and be ready to play."

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly, however, defended his defenders.

"Our guys played well but give them (Riders) some credit," he said. "They slipped some tackles and slipped into holes ... I don't know if our guys played poorly, they just played well."

BANJO BOWL: Winnipeg plays host to the Roughriders in this Sunday's annual Banjo Bowl. The Roughriders swept last year's season series and the Bombers are determined not to allow that to happen again.

"We want them real bad right now, real bad," said wide receiver Adarius Bowman. "I'm not happy but we're not overly down."

In fact, they are anxious to make amends.

"We needed this win but the good thing is we get to see them again and we'll be ready," said linebacker Ike Charlton. "We've just got to come out with more intensity to start the game and not wait until the second quarter to do it and if we can do that, we'll be successful."

That will be the first game of a second half where the Bombers will have six home games.

"Oh man, it's never good to be 3-6 but that's where we're at right now," said tailback Fred Reid. "We'll just have to get better. We still have nine games left and we'll be OK."

OOPS: Apologies to Winnipeg's Brendon LaBatte for suggesting he was the guard whom Kelly had said had gotten beaten when Winnipeg failed to score from the Saskatchewan one in yesterday's Sun. Turns out, LaBatte was not the guilty party.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos