Bombers a baffling bunch

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

They’ll put you to sleep with an offence that puts the coma in comatose.

They’ll drive you batty with a kicking game that, at times, looks right out of high school.

And they’ll make you want to put your fist through the wall with the way they manage the clock.

They’re also in first place, with two weeks to go in the CFL regular season.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers confound, amuse and impress, sometimes all in the same game, the most recent example Saturday’s 26-25 nail-biter over the Montreal Alouettes.

“It wasn’t the prettiest outing,” O-lineman Brendon LaBatte said in a raucous winning locker-room. “But it got the job done.”

The Bombers have two weeks to finish what would have been considered an unlikely job, going into the season: clinching first and earning a free pass to the East Final.

They’re not going to do it by out-fancying anybody.

The secret to this outfit’s success isn’t one at all. The Bombers beat other teams up with a blunt instrument known as their defence, dragging their offence along in the ensuing mayhem.

Saturday, they made Anthony Calvillo, only the most prolific passer pro football has ever seen, look like the rookie who toiled for the Las Vegas Posse in 1994.

Three interceptions, six sacks and a 14-for-37 stat line, with less than 200 yards — the numbers even shocked the men who produced them.

“Wow,” was D-lineman Doug Brown’s reaction. “That was a game our defence can hang its hat on, man.”

Throw the coat, some extra mitts and a few scarves on, too. They’ll all come in handy if the 10-6 Bombers close this out and force the Als, or the Ticats, to come back to the ’Peg, Nov. 20.

Not that it’s close to a sure thing.

‘Hit a wall’

Because as good as the Bombers are at stuffing opposing attacks, their own still leaves something to be desired.

After a touchdown on their opening drive, taking advantage of a brilliant Jovon Johnson interception, the Winnipeg offence didn’t get a sniff of the end zone again until there were seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Much of that stretch had all the sizzle of a cold bowl of porridge.

“We hit a wall there in the second and third quarter,” the man dishing out the slop, quarterback Buck Pierce, said. “But we battled through it. Defence and special teams really kept us in it.”

Well, defence, anyway.

Justin Palardy, who missed two short field goals, could have easily been the goat, while newly signed punter Jamie Boreham managed a comical, left-footed kick on the run that just made the line of scrimmage.

Drawing equal attention from the boo-birds in the sellout crowd was the way the Bombers, well within field goal range, allowed the clock to expire on their last drive of the first half.

They overcame it all, thanks to a relentless defence that went after Calvillo and his receivers like wolves after raw meat.

In knocking off the two-time defending Grey Cup champs for the second time in three tries, the Bombers dimmed the memory of five losses in their previous seven, overall.

“Confidence-wise, it puts us right back to where we were two weeks ago,” Pierce said. “Feeling pretty good about ourselves. But we have to get a lot better.”

The most encouraging sign has to be their ability to come up big in the big ones. It’s obvious now they peeked past Edmonton last week.

And now we’re left wondering if a team with the best defence in the land really can unseat the league’s perennial Eastern powerhouse.

“We don’t let people come in here and win Eastern Division titles on us,” Brown concluded. “We’ve got two weeks to decide whether this is the changing of the guard, or not. But we just threw a little monkey wrench in their plans to close up shop with a couple weeks left.”


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