Blue make strides

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Fred Reid is taken down by Calgary Stampeders' Tom Johnson. (Mike Drew/QMI...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Fred Reid is taken down by Calgary Stampeders' Tom Johnson. (Mike Drew/QMI AGENCY)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

Normally when you enter the Bomber locker-room after a game at McMahon Stadium, all you hear are the showers running and bags being packed.

Forty-two players are milling about, but no one’s talking

Saturday night was a different story.

The place didn’t have all the atmosphere of a morgue. Players were chatting about what they could have done better, plays that went awry and how they can be fixed.

They were upset, yet hopeful, after a 23-20 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

The Bombers, who have lost eight straight at McMahon since 2002, normally get blown out in Cowtown.

The fact they were on their way to another shellacking after a poor first half, only to bounce back in the second and almost win the thing, says something.

Not too far

But this team, which sits third in the East Division with a 2-3 record, wants more than moral victories.

And Saturday’s contest showed they’re not too far away from being able to run with the league’s best.

They hung with a top West Division team using their backup quarterback making his third career start.

Head coach Paul LaPolice was peeved afterwards, no doubt, but you could tell in his answers that he feels his team needs to follow a process of getting better, that it’s not going to know how to win every game all the time.

“I’ll say this: You can learn from things in a loss. We learned some things today,” LaPolice said outside the locker-room, his face red and looking fatigued after another intense night at the office.

“We learned that this team competes, that we’ll play to the end, that we came out in the second half and we really played well. This is a good football team we just lost to. We put ourselves in a position to win the game.

“That’s two losses where we’ve put ourselves in position to win the game (the other was a 36-34 loss to Toronto in Week 2). Now we gotta come out and win the game. We gotta start winning some of those where you put yourself in position late in the game. That’s what you talk about on the road. Hang around, hang around, hang around and make a play.

“We’re not really happy that we almost beat the Calgary Stampeders. I don’t think there’s a guy in that room that feels that way.”

No, but there were plenty of bright spots to feel good about going into a huge home-and-home with the 1-4 Hamilton Tiger-Cats that starts Saturday in Steeltown.

The defence made some good adjustments at half-time and held the high-flying Stampeders to just six second-half points.

When receiver Terrence Edwards dropped what would have been a long catch, he bounced back two plays later with a 61-yard touchdown to get the Bombers back in it.

Their special teams were decent.

The next part of the team’s evolution is figuring out how to get over that hump, how to play a complete game and actually pull it out at the end.

“If you take a test and you get 50%, how happy are you about that, right?” defensive tackle Doug Brown said.

“We just gotta be consistent. We’ve shown flashes that we can be a pretty competitive team when we put it all together.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos