Bombers' Steeltown shutdown

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:32 AM ET

HAMILTON - As far as first impressions go, the schemes employed by new Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke in the 2011 season opener got two thumbs up — way up, in fact.

Sure, you can’t put too much stock into Week 1 of an 18-week campaign but Burke, the man who won consecutive Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes, made a stellar debut as his defence forced four turnovers (all interceptions), added a pair of sacks and came up with an important third-down stand in a 24-16 road win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

“I don’t know who to take my hat off to more, our back end or for our defensive co-ordinator for putting them in the right place and coaching those guys up,” said Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown.

“Obviously, there’s a progression from last year. I haven’t seen a back end play like that in Winnipeg in some time. That was pretty special. You have to give those players in the back their due as well because they were ball-hawking.”

There’s been a certain swagger surrounding the Bomber defence — especially in the improved secondary — and that was on display as well as the group provided three of the four interceptions, including Alex Suber’s 66-yard ‘pick six’ that shifted the momentum in Winnipeg’s favour.

“We didn’t do anything different, when you play like that you keep it coming and eventually a play will come to you,” said Suber. “That’s what happened.”

Those four picks leave the Bombers on pace for 72 this season, though half that many would be outstanding.

The Bombers defence was so good they chased Kevin Glenn from the game in the fourth quarter, causing a bit of a stir in the home locker-room after and prompting several reporters to wonder whether a quarterback controversy might be brewing.

That’s of little concern to the Bombers at this stage, but they’re happy with how they performed in Week 1.

“First game is obviously real big,” said safety Ian Logan, who had two picks. “Coming into Hamilton and posting a win is a big feat. It’s our first road win in two years, so obviously it’s a big deal for us.

“We weren’t trying to do too much. They were trying to get balls up into the seam there and I was keying on a couple of receivers inside and waiting for the ball to come. Our whole thing on defence is to trying to get interceptions and to try and get turnovers. That was the first one to the house.”

Logan had two balls fall into his hands in the middle of the field, Suber tipped an overthrown pass intended for Dave Stala and linebacker Joe Lobendahn out-willed Ticats receiver Matt Carter and ripped the ball out of his hands to turn a reception into an interception.

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice was proud of a lot of things his team accomplished and seeing a stingy defence give up just six points in the second quarter and none throughout the second half was a sight to behold.

“We played a little better coverage in the second half and certainly we made some great plays,” said LaPolice. “The defence played tremendous. They did a very good job. All game they were good. To do what we did was a good night and we’ll continue to get better as a team.”

The Bombers are back in action Friday when they host the Toronto Argonauts in a battle of 1-0 teams that are tied with the Montreal Alouettes for top spot in the East Division.


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