Blue Bombers' attack fizzles

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce tosses the ball against the Toronto Argonauts during...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce tosses the ball against the Toronto Argonauts during CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday June 23, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI AGENCY)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 PM ET

One down, eighteen to go. Isnít that what all Blue Bomber fans are thinking today?

Letís face it, every time quarterback Buck Pierce survives a football game without dislocating, tearing or stretching anything, other than a defence, itís a reason to hope.

As long as Pierce stays away from the medics, this final full season at the leaky, old house on Maroons Road holds some promise.

Thursday night, in the final tune-up before the lights go on for real, the building sprang a major leak, but the quarterback walked away unscathed.

The final score doesnít really matter.

The way it happened, though, does.

And the part involving Pierce wasnít any prettier than the surroundings.

While a burst pipe caused a pre-game gusher above and behind the press box, causing a leak not five feet from the making of this deadline-beating masterpiece, the Bomber offence looked disturbingly rusty with No. 4 at the controls.

What was it head coach Paul LaPolice had said before the game: he wanted to leave his starter in long enough to get into a rhythm?

Some 25 minutes in, there still wasnít any. Plenty of blues, though.

Dropped passes. Squandered chances. And just 71 yards through the air from whatís expected to be a vaunted passing attack.

Coach LaPo obviously didnít want to push his luck with Buck, so he pulled him, six points on the board and less than 100 yards offence on the stats sheet.

Pierce was outgunned by Torontoís Cleo Lemon, and thatís not something to be proud of, part of an overall performance that was as uneven as the parking lot outside Wrecking Ball Field.

It was a gorgeous night but not so gorgeous a game, as is often the custom for these pretend contests, played before a pretend crowd of 29,000-plus, as a few thousand were freebies.

Early in the second half the first official boos of the campaign rained down, a 59-yard punt return by the immortal Jerome Hewitt of the Argos doing the trick, a touchdown that may have caused a nervous twitch in Bombers special teams coach Kyle Walters.

Waltersí units, you may recall, gave up six return majors a year ago.

The touchdown made it 20-9, Toronto, and followed a blocked Winnipeg field goal and a contacting-the-kicker penalty, two more special teams no-noís that canít be tolerated when there are divisional points at stake.

As for that Winnipeg ďattack,Ē it kept fizzling under backup quarterback Joey Elliott, too.

Meanwhile, the Bomber defence was giving up big plays to Lemon and B.J. Hall.

Early in the fourth, the Bombers finally turned the tables, rookie receiver Josh Bishop turning one of those annoying, five-yard patterns into a 34-yard gain and setting up an Elliott touchdown strike to another rookie, Clarence Denmark.

Within seven now, 23-16, the fans got into it ó and so did the Bomber defence, stuffing the Argos on a third-and-one in Toronto territory.

But Elliott and the offence turned touchdown-range into field-goal range, then missed-field-goal range, with back-to-back sacks. Not the kind of protection youíd want to subject Pierce to.

The Big Blue managed another major, but only when they had to traverse just four yards of real estate to convert, following a Toronto fumble.

Gift-wrapped touchdowns are one thing, sustained drives another, and they were nowhere to be found.

The icing on this rather dry cake came in the last minute, when the illustrious Chad Kackert (altogether, now: ďWho?Ē) ran 73 yards through the Bomber defence for the winning touchdown.

Like I said, the final score, 30-23, doesnít really matter.

The way it happened, did.

And that tells us Paul LaPoliceís Bombers arenít exactly clicking on all cylinders going into the games that count.


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