Live by the sword, die by the sword.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the turnover battle in each of the first two weeks to earn victories, but the Calgary Stampeders turned the tables in Week 3.
Thanks in part to a late fumble by receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris, the Stampeders rallied late to earn a 21-20 victory over the Blue Bombers before a crowd of 27,890 at Canad Inns Stadium on Thursday night.
The play that proved to be the turning point was as innocent as they come.
With the Blue Bombers near field-goal range and holding a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, back-up quarterback Joey Elliott hit Terence Jeffers-Harris in stride for what would have been a five-yard gain.
It wasn’t going to be a first down, but would have given Justin Palardy a chance to pad the lead.
Instead, Jeffers-Harris was smoked by Calgary Stampeders safety Demetrice Morley, defensive back Keon Raymond picked up the loose ball and returned the fumble 42 yards to the Winnipeg 31.
“I just didn’t hang onto the ball,” a distraught Jeffers-Harris said in the locker-room. “He hit me and I wasn’t strong enough to hang onto the ball. It was a good hit.
“That’s the most frustrating way a player could end a game.”
The ensuing drive ended with Henry Burris finding Ken-Yon Rambo in the end zone for a five-yard strike for a major that erased a 20-14 deficit.
Officially, the Blue Bombers forced a pair of fumbles (one of them coming on a blocked field goal), but Buck Pierce had two picks and the Jeffers-Harris fumble made it 3-2 for the Stampeders in the turnover battle.
The Blue Bombers defence created 10 turnovers through the first two weeks.
NO MORAL VICTORIES: Hanging tough against a Grey Cup contender might sound good to the outside world, but there’s no place for moral victories inside the Blue Bomber locker-room.
“I don’t take no positives out of anything if we’re losing,” said Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney. “One point, two points, three points? We lost the game. Two and one sounds good but 3-0 would have sounded great.”
“We lost to a good team, but everybody thinks we should have won this game,” added Blue Bombers receiver Terrence Edwards, who hauled in a 49-yard touchdown score. “It doesn’t matter how many points you lose by, you lost. We’re not going to hang our head and woe is us, the season’s over. It’s one game. We’ve got 15 more to go.”
NICE START: Defensive end Kenny Mainor made his presence felt in his CFL debut, finishing with two tackles, two sacks and a blocked field goal.
Mainor, who was cut by the Stamps at the end of training camp in 2010, was in the lineup because of a knee injury to Jason Vega.
EARLY INJURY: The Blue Bombers secondary took a hit on the opening kickoff as defensive back Alex Suber sustained an undisclosed injury when he made the tackle on Stamps returner Johnny Forzani.
According to a report on TSN, Suber actually was choking on his mouthguard at one point. He didn’t come back into the contest and was replaced in the secondary by Deon Beasley.