Fitting finish for Bombers

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

The Blueout was a blowout, and now the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are just plain out.

A beaming Kevin Glenn got his revenge on the franchise that dumped him in March, helping the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 39-17 destruction of the Blue and Gold yesterday in front of 29,038 spectators at Canad Inns Stadium.

The Tabbies (9-9) clinched second place in the East Division, while the Bombers failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Winnipeg finished with a 7-11 mark under rookie head coach Mike Kelly -- worse than last year's 8-10 record that got Doug Berry fired -- and allowed the B.C. Lions (8-10) to cross over and play the Ticats in the East semifinal.

"You don't lose by 22 points at home to a team that's already made the playoffs," Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown said in the morose home locker-room. "The way we played out there, it looked like (Lions owner) David Braley owned part of this team and not just Toronto. It was inexcusable.

"We got a sold-out crowd, and the Blueout's happening, and we have a province that really didn't have a lot of reasons to get behind us tonight, and they did. We let everybody down."

Brown, refusing to go into specifics, basically said he wasn't surprised his team's season came to a crashing halt.

"(A record of) 7-11 is fitting," he said. "You can only put so many fingers in the dam and mask the issues. Tonight it all reared its ugly head all at once. We got what we deserved."

The Bombers trailed 22-16 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and they got some much-needed life when Lenny Walls intercepted Glenn for the second time in the contest.

'SICK FEELING'

However, Bomber quarterback Michael Bishop, who completed only two passes for 10 yards in the second half, was intercepted by Markeith Knowlton on the very next play. The linebacker returned it 35 yards for a touchdown that gave the Tabbies an 29-16 lead.

The Hamilton players celebrated by hopping into a speed boat that was located just outside the north end zone.

"After the second (pick) I said, 'OK, this is it. We can take the lead.' And it deflated me when they ran one right back to the house," Walls said. "It's a sick feeling in your stomach that you get."

Jykine Bradley added another interception return for a score, this time from 49 yards out, with 1:45 to go. Into the boat the Ticats defence went again.

Bishop was good on only eight of 26 attempts for 122 yards, one touchdown and two picks. Glenn, meanwhile, completed 28 of 42 passes for 316 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

"I think there were communication problems between the quarterback and the receivers," Bombers head coach Mike Kelly said. "We just never got in synch."

That happened more than once this season. Slotback Terrence Edwards said the final word on the 2009 Bomber team will be its inconsistent offence.

"The defence played great all year, the special teams played great, but the offence was two games forward and one game back," he said. "Offensively we've got too much talent on this team to play offence like we did."

The loss brought to an end one of the more tumultuous Bomber campaigns in recent memory. From Kelly's controversial words and actions off the field to the SOS sent to Bishop in late July to replace anointed starter Stefan LeFors to the Pacman Jones fiasco, the "Bombers" and "circus" were never far apart.

Despite that, Kelly believes the Bombers improved "across the board" on the field, which is what ultimately will matter most in the post-season analysis. He knows people are going to call for his head, but he vowed to soldier on.

"There's a lot of positives to find here," Kelly said. "I understand what the next couple days are going to bring, and I understand people's reaction to it.

"But I know how we work in this building, and that is ultimately where I have to hang my hat."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos