Learning how to win

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Almost overlooked in the euphoria of Winnipeg's third straight victory on Thanksgiving Monday was the fact that the Blue Bombers almost blew a 31-0 lead.

Hamilton actually out-scored the Bombers 28-7 in the last 18 minutes of the match.

"You can hardly blame us for that letdown in the second half because we've had no experience playing with a lead of that magnitude," veteran Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown joked. "We didn't know what to do with ourselves so, our apologies."

Actually, the Bombers have suffered letdowns after taking leads in each one of those last three wins.

"We were up 31-0 and were trying to keep our focus and that's not always easy to do," said Bomber head coach Mike Kelly. "We have to understand how to play these football games all the way out. We're a young football team that's learning every day."

Tied for second

At least they are learning how to win now.

"We're tied for second in the East but we've got three real tough games coming up," Brown cautioned. "B.C.'s going to want some revenge, then Montreal twice in a row. Then we've got to face Hamilton again at home. So, it's very encouraging right now but we definitely have to buckle down and get back to work because the next games will determine the outcome of our season."

LOOKING GOOD: Wide receiver Adarius Bowman recorded Winnipeg's first 200-yard game receiving since Derick Armstrong (remember him?) turned the trick in 2007. Bowman finished with 10 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

"He surprised me," said Bomber QB Michael Bishop. "He came and told me, 'The guy who's covering me, I think I can get by him.' All receivers say that but a couple of times, I rolled to the right and I saw the safety go over to the field and he was one-on-one and he did a great job of winning one-on-one battles."

Bowman clearly enjoyed the attention afterward.

"I was just trying to make something happen," he said with a wide grin.

"I've been saying ever since we made that trade (with Saskatchewan) that this kid has everything we look for in a young player, and you see how he's grown this year and the confidence that has grown within him," Kelly said. "He's a good football player who has a long way to go yet. But he's certainly on a learning curve and a growth pattern that is awfully encouraging."

ROOKIE BOOKENDS: Also encouraging was the play of rookie defensive ends Odell Willis and Phillip Hunt. Willis recorded two defensive tackles, a quarterback sack, recovered a fumble and forced the fumble that led to the touchdown scored by DB Lenny Walls.

"That was just a total team effort," said Willis, who was acquired from Calgary four weeks ago (and the Bombers haven't lost since). "They covered the receivers and gave us time to get to the quarterback and when we got to the quarterback, we just laid him flat."

Hunt, who replaced injured veteran Gavin Walls, recorded three defensive tackles, a quarterback sack and a forced fumble.

"I feel good, man," Hunt said. "It was a great team effort. We got a good push from the inside, the DBs were covering in the back and the D-line was rushing hard."

Lenny Walls scored his first TD as a pro when he returned the Quinton Porter fumble seven yards for the major.

"I've got to thank No. 40 (Willis) for making it happen for me," he said. "Any time I see a ball poke around, I won't ever fall on it, I'll just scoop and score. I was in the right place at the right time."

BARRIN BACK: In his first game back with the Bombers since the Banjo Bowl, middle LB Barrin Simpson recorded two defensive tackles.

"He was certainly was a contributor out there and played well from what I could see," Kelly said. "But that's part of being a teammate. Everybody steps up when called upon."

But it will be interesting to see what Kelly does if LB Joe Lobendaahn is ready to return this Sunday.

WANTED MAN: First the Hamilton crowd started chanting, 'We Want Glenn.' Then Kevin Glenn's teammates followed suit after the former Bomber QB engineered 28 second-half points versus Winnipeg.

"Let's call a spade a spade: Glenn is better than Porter," receiver Arland Bruce III told the Hamilton Spectator. "No disrespect to Porter, he's a great guy, but Glenn is the better quarterback. You need the better quarterback in there if you want to get some type of opportunity in the playoffs. Period."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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