Bombers put it together

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

Call off the dogs, send home the lynch mob and shut down those fire-Mike-Kelly Facebook pages.

For at least a week.

If last night's game between the Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts was a referendum on the two head coaches, we got a verdict: there's less support for Bart Andrus on the Argos bench than there is for Mike Kelly on Winnipeg's.

A matchup between the CFL's two laughing stocks left little doubt -- OK, maybe just a little -- as to who's the worst team in three-down football, and it ain't Professor Kelly's.

That moniker hangs like a bad smell on the Argos, who actually made Winnipeg look like a decent football team, for three quarters, anyway, in a 29-24 Bomber win.

No, 4-8 still isn't anything to write home about, but the alternative wouldn't have left much to the imagination.

Let's face it, had the Bombers lost this one, and they tried hard in that last 15 minutes, the only thing left to watch this season was the axe bobbing over the heads of anyone and everyone involved.

Instead, this team can spend a rare week in the glow of victory, actually answering questions about something positive for a change -- assuming there's not another episode of the Gong Show lurking around the corner.

Home victories have been so rare this season, we don't even know where to start.

How about in the most unlikely of places: with the man who usually wears the target in this space.

The professor said something interesting this week, about how he'd noticed a spark in his receiving corps, an energy that hadn't been there through 11 weeks.

Turned out he was bang on, as Winnipeg's pass-catchers, particularly newcomer Otis Amey, sparked an offensive outburst we haven't seen all year.

With assistant Manny Matsakis running the offence, the Bombers actually discovered a passing game, and the only people more relieved than Kelly had to be the ones playing defence for Winnipeg.

With two-and-out no longer the mantra, the dirty dozen got some breaks and laid some serious hurt on the Argos.

But we knew this defence had moxie.

We didn't know the offence, led by quarterback Michael Bishop, could sustain anything other than the occasional big play off a broken one.

Maybe all the Hall of Famers in attendance rubbed off on the home team.

You found yourself rubbing your eyes in disbelief in that first half, when Bishop came out with his arm on fire.

Eight of his first nine passes were on the mark, 11 of 14 overall in that opening 30 minutes, producing an eye-popping 214 yards through the air.

Eye-popping by Bomber standards, that is.

There were some early hiccups, and the offence at times resembled a recess at the local elementary school yard, with plenty of confused running around, and players looking for signals.

But out of the early gloom came this group's finest effort in what seems like eons.

Yeah, it's only the Argos. And the finish left something to be desired.

But let's not let that get in the way.

Last time this team played at home, it looked every bit like one that had quit on its head coach. Last night, it didn't.

Two scenes stood out, the first when Bishop came off the field after his second touchdown pass. Waiting with an embrace was the man he was supposed to have had a confrontation with during the week.

The other moment came after a bench-clearing melee early in the fourth quarter.

When the punches had stopped, the Bombers gathered, en masse, at their bench in a show of solidarity that belied the events of the last few months.

At the centre of it all, their hands raised together, the professor and his quarterback.

Go figure.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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