First pro start was fun for Bomber

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

His first pro start was far from spectacular, but Winnipeg's Joey Elliott almost led the Blue Bombers to a dramatic victory anyway.

Years from now, Elliott will be able to tell his kids that the opposing team needed overtime to beat his Bombers in his debut as a CFL starter.

"Yeah, it was fun," Elliott said upon returning home from Edmonton on Sunday. "I will be able to tell my kids, my family, that I was able to play in a CFL game, a professional football game that was fun to be a part of, and to be around a great group of guys like this."

Elliott completed 15 of 29 passes for only 130 yards, with no touchdowns and no picks as Eskimos tailback Daniel Porter scored on a 12-yard touchdown run in overtime to down Winnipeg 16-13 Saturday. It was a CFL record eighth time the beleaguered Bombers lost a game by four or less points this season.

Elliott did lead his team on some last-minute dramatics that sent the contest into OT, with placekicker Just Palardy booting a 26-yard field goal to knot the score at 10-10 on the last play of the fourth quarter.

"I thought the game went pretty well," Elliott said. "We were able to manage the clock to put the team into a few good situations. But we've got to be able to capitalize when we get near the endzone. We moved the ball well at times. The O-line did a great job of opening holes for (tailback) Fred (Reid) and Fred did a good job of securing the football and getting as many yards as possible. We've just got to learn to finish at the goalline."

Elliott was stuffed on a quarterback sneak at the Edmonton one in the first half and was later stopped on third-and-short on the same play.

"It's tough," conceded Elliott, who had played the last quarter and change the previous week. "I'm not only learning about the game but I'm trying to win the football game."

Elliott was listed No. 4 on the depth chart earlier this season but was pressed into starting duty when both Steven Jyles and Alex Brink were lost for the season with shoulder injuries the previous week.

"He put us in position to kick a field goal and tie the game up," said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. "We've got to locate the football better and we've got to convert second downs better -- we weren't very good at that. That's partially on Joey, partially on all of us, but I thought he managed the game very well."

OUT OF CONTROL: LaPolice has other issues. Bomber DE Odell Willis, for one, was flagged five times for 55 yards in penalties -- three of them 15-yarders.

"Those aren't really intelligent penalties," LaPolice said. "You know, it's a team game and you can't do things that hurt the team."

Yet, 17 games into the season and Willis has yet to be taught discipline as he had 22 infractions heading into Saturday's match.

FAKED OUT: Then there are the special teams. When they are not surrendering TDs on kick returns, they seem powerless to stop fake punts and field goals. One observer even suggested that opposing teams should gamble on every third down versus Winnipeg.

FAILED GAMBLES: And third-down gambles continue to be an adventure for the Bombers, who seldom, if ever, give the ball to one of the CFL's top rushers on those plays.

HUNT RECORD: On the plus side, when Bomber DE Phillip Hunt recorded his league-leading 16th sack Saturday, it set a CFL record of recording at least one in 10 consecutive games.

-- With files from Kirk Penton

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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