A 14-0 lead, a game-ending injury to Buck Pierce in the first quarter and five forced turnovers.
What more could the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have possibly needed to win yesterday's critical CFL clash against the B.C. Lions -- an invitation?
Apparently so, because they didn't get it done despite all those aspects working in their favour. The Lions, thanks to the quick feet of backup quarterback Travis Lulay, escaped with a 24-21 win in front of 24,048 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium on a warm October afternoon.
"Holy cow. This is one of the tougher ones I've had in a bit, I'll tell you that," said Bomber slotback Brock Ralph, who had a 10-yard touchdown catch on Winnipeg's opening drive. "... I can already promise you that once we look at the film with this one, we're going to be sick.
"We're going to be even sicker than we are."
The Bombers (6-9), who failed to record their first four-game winning streak since 2003, are still tied for second in the East Division with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who fell 41-38 to Montreal yesterday.
"That almost makes a guy sicker," Ralph said, "because you realize what you could've had and the position we could have been in."
The Lions improved to 8-7 and are all alone in third place in the West Division, one point behind Calgary and Saskatchewan, but the fourth-place Edmonton Eskimos currently own the East crossover spot with a 7-8 mark.
The Bombers host the Montreal Alouettes (13-2) on Saturday afternoon.
If they end up missing the post-season, they'll probably look back at yesterday's contest as the reason why.
"I don't feel like the better football team won that game," head coach Mike Kelly said.
Bombers defensive back Lenny Walls, sticking with Ralph's nausea theme, spoke like he wanted to vomit himself.
"It's the worse loss of the year to me because there was so much at stake, so much at stake, and we didn't put them away," he said. "... It's unacceptable. We can't afford to lose. We've lost too many already. We can't afford to lose any more right now.
"We can't say, 'What if?' There ain't enough time for, 'What if?' There's not enough games left, not enough quarters left for, 'What if?' I'm sick of that."
The Bombers led 14-0 after one quarter, but the advantage probably should have been bigger; they managed only seven points off three Lions turnovers.
The Lions, who lost Pierce to a shoulder injury on their second possession, began their comeback early in the second quarter on a terrible pass from Bomber quarterback Michael Bishop that Dante Marsh intercepted and returned 18 yards for a touchdown.
The teams traded points back and forth until the fourth quarter, when the Lions turned Bishop's second of three picks on the day into A.J. Harris' 30-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that provided the game-winning points.
Winnipeg's Alexis Serna was good on four of six field goal attempts, while B.C.'s Paul McCallum made all three of his tries.
Bishop completed only 13 of 32 for 226 yards one touchdown and three interceptions, but Kelly took the blame for that, saying they need to work on certain passing plays more in practice.
Lulay was good on 13 of 24 passes for 177 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He did, however, have 92 rushing yards on only seven carries. His best was a 26-yard scamper on second-and-11 in the final minute that put the nail in Winnipeg's coffin.
Kelly, noting that the Bombers still control their own fate, believes his team can compete with the Alouettes and will bounce back next week.
"I want these guys to swish around the bitterness, and I want the coaching staff to swish it around," he said. "Then maybe we'll all throw up and come back and be better next week."