Bombers cling to faint playoff hopes

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 PM ET

VANCOUVER — - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost control of their playoff pursuit on Saturday night with a 16-14 loss to the B.C. Lions.

The Blue and Gold are essentially toast anyway with a league-worst 3-10 record, but going into Saturday’s tilt they still controlled their own situation. They could have won out and secured a playoff berth.

Now they need to go on a tear and get plenty of assistance.

“It makes it a lot harder,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “You’ve gotta win a lot of football games, and you probably may need some help. So it’s a long crawl back.”

The Bombers are four points back of the third-place Lions (5-8) in the race for the West Division crossover spot, but they have to finish ahead of both the Lions and Edmonton Eskimos (4-9) to earn that post-season berth.

That’s an extremely tall task with only five games to go.

“We’re not mathematically out of it yet,” centre Obby Khan said. “We’re making it harder for ourselves, but we just gotta keep working. This loss hurt, though.”

RETRIBUTION AWAITS: Rookie slotback Terence Jeffers-Harris returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a high ankle sprain, and he wasn’t happy with some of the tactics employed by the Lions secondary.

“They were grabbing my ankles and my legs,” Jeffers-Harris said, noting he will be out for revenge in next week’s rematch.

Asked if the payback will be exacted by performing well or fighting fire with fire, the 22-year-old said “it’s going to be both. We’re probably going to make it a hell of a game, I’ll say that. We’re going to be pretty mad.

“They know who they are. I don’t have to say no names. The defensive backs of B.C., they know who it is. But we’ll see them next week.”

Jeffers-Harris had five catches for 33 yards in his return to the lineup but also blew a couple of assignments.

“That’s really what the time off did to me,” he said. “It probably just hindered my execution of assignments a little bit.”

SHOULDA, COULDA, WOULDA: The Bomber defence had lots of trouble containing Lions quarterback Travis Lulay in the second half and Justin Palardy missed a critical 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but LaPolice shifted the blame for Saturday’s loss towards his offence.

“We still had opportunities to move the ball after and try to stay on the field (after Palardy’s miss),” LaPolice said. “There’s no reason we can’t get sevens. If we get touchdowns, especially early in the game, it’s a different story because our defence is playing well. You can’t hold them off all game.”

QUOTABLE: “We know we’re a good team, and losing close games like that hurts worse than anything. You’d rather have somebody blow you out and be like, ‘OK, they beat us.’ But when you lose a game like that you know that you beat yourself.”

— Bomber quarterback Steven Jyles

LATE HITS: Bomber slotback Terrence Edwards had four catches for 108 yards, which gives him a league-leading 1,106 overall. It’s his third 1,000-yard season in four years with the Blue and Gold … Fred Reid hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark on Saturday night for the second straight season after carrying the ball 13 times for 72 yards. He is second in the CFL with 1,041 yards, only seven back of Toronto’s Cory Boyd … Winnipeg’s Canadian depth took a hit on Saturday, as James Green suffered a suspected torn right biceps and Deji Oduwole left the contest with back spasms … Bomber receiver Greg Carr followed up his impressive pro debut against Montreal with a game-high seven catches for 85 yards against B.C., but he had two drops, including one in the end zone on Winnipeg’s opening drive … They may not seem like much, but the Bombers continue to make small mistakes that add up. Against the Lions Cory Watson was offside on a punt return, while returner Deon Beasley fielded a kickoff that would’ve gone out of bounds. That cost Winnipeg 15 yards in the field position battle … Saturday’s loss means Winnipeg will go more than a calendar year without a road victory, as their previous triumph away from Canad Inns Stadium was last Oct. 12. Winnipeg’s eight-game road losing streak is the longest since it dropped nine in a row between Sept. 25, 2004, and Sept. 4, 2005.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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