Bombers comeback falls short

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Winnipeg Blue...

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers Clint Kent during the first half of CFL football play in Montreal, October 17, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:24 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were looking good.

You could even argue they were looking great.

Then, as has been the case so often this season, they couldn’t keep it going. And now their miniscule playoff hopes are even smaller.

The Bombers jumped out to an 11-2 lead over the Montreal Alouettes in the first quarter of their CFL clash on Sunday afternoon at Molson Stadium, but the hosts scored 20 consecutive points to take control and hold on for a 22-19 triumph.

The Bombers almost duplicated their stunning Thanksgiving Day comeback late in the fourth, but this time it was too little, too late.

It was Winnipeg’s seventh loss of the season by four points or fewer and its eighth by seven points or fewer. Both tied CFL records for close setbacks.

The Bombers fell to 4-11 overall and 0-8 on the road, but more importantly they failed to take advantage of a huge break they got Saturday night when the Edmonton Eskimos upset the B.C. Lions in overtime.

Winnipeg could’ve moved into a tie at 5-10 with Edmonton and B.C., but remain two points back. The Bombers are essentially four points out of the West Division crossover spot with three games to go since they need to finish ahead of both the Esks and Leos.

“We gotta get at least two (wins), and now we need some help,” said left guard Brendon LaBatte, who spent several minutes in the morose Bomber locker-room after the game with his head buried in his hands. “It definitely didn’t help our situation, and to come that close in a game of that magnitude, it definitely hurts.”

The Bombers were officially eliminated from East Division playoff contention. The Alouettes improved to 11-4 and clinched first place in the East for the third straight year. They will host the East Final at Olympic Stadium on Nov. 21.

The Bombers host the Toronto Argonauts (7-8) on Saturday afternoon.

The Bombers made it interesting late in the fourth on Sunday. They trailed 22-11 when Terrence Edwards caught a 72-yard touchdown pass from Steven Jyles with 1:13 to go. Brock Ralph caught the two-point convert to get Winnipeg to within three.

Brandon Stewart then had a great opportunity to knock the kickoff out of bounds and get possession for the Bombers, but the ball took an odd bounce before he could touch it.

Winnipeg got the ball back on its own 21 after a Montreal two-and-out, but Terence Jeffers-Harris fumbled after making a catch near midfield and that was the ball game.

And more likely, the season.

Head coach Paul LaPolice was more peeved about his team’s lack of production in the second, third and fourth quarters than their inability to repeat their comeback from six days prior against B.C.

“You can’t expect at the end of the game to pull one out of your hat,” a seething LaPolice said. “We had some opportunities early to score points, and we didn’t.”

Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown felt the turning point occurred early in the second quarter when the Bomber offence failed to capitalize on a glorious opportunity to add to their 11-2 lead.

Clint Kent forced Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo to fumble on his own 16 and recovered the football. The Bombers got to the five-yard line, but Jyles’ arm was hit as he threw, and cornerback Mark Estelle made the interception.

“Montr eal’s not a team you let hang around, and we paid the price for that,” Brown said. “We need to capitalize, and that’s been the story all season. We get opportunities and advantageous situations, and we don’t cash them out.”

Jyles completed 16 of 28 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Blue and Gold were shut out in the second, third and almost all of the fourth.

“They did a good job of mixing things up and making adjustments,” Jyles said of the Als defence. “It’s little things and little mistakes, and that’s what hurt us in the second and third quarter.”

Greg Carr hauled in his fourth touchdown catch in four games, a 28-yarder, while Justin Palardy booted a 40-yard field goal and a kickoff single in the first quarter for the Bombers, who trailed 12-11 at the half.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos