Blue Bombers blitzBlue hold on to precarious lead
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
|dmonton Eskimos Donovan Alexander (right) tackles Winnipeg Blue Bombers WR Cory Watson during Thursday's 23-22 Bombers victory. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)
It was rather fitting that the Blue Bombers won a sloppy game when the ball was bobbled away.
Edmonton quarterback Steve Jyles, who’s been known for his fumble-itis throughout his CFL career, gave the ball away just as he moved it to within easy range of the winning field goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
That allowed the Bombers to hold on to a rather precarious 23-22 lead for a much-needed win.
The Bombers had headed into the fourth quarter trailing by only three points at home, and desperately seeking their first win of the season.
For some reason, the Eskies decided to concede a safety touch. Guess they were afraid of that daunting Winnipeg offence that only scored touchdowns on a Hail Mary and a blocked-punt-gone-awry.
The Bombers followed that up with a 27-yard Justin Palardy field goal to take a 23-21 lead that no one thought would last. But it did as Edmonton only managed a single it didn’t really want the rest of the way.
Confusion reigned after the Eskimos partially blocked a Mike Renaud punt (yet another special teams faux pas). An Edmonton player touched it and Jeremy McGee recovered it. Because the ball did not pass the line of scrimmage, there was no no-yards penalty on the play. After Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed challenged the call, the Bombers maintained possession at the Edmonton 24. Two plays later, Chad Simpson scored on a five-yard run to pull Winnipeg to within 21-18 late in the third quarter.
Stamps gets lick in
Gee, I thought the late TD at the end of the first half would’ve sparked the Bombers. Nope. The D let them down. The Eskies lulled the defence to sleep, then Jyles found a wide-open Fred Stamps downfield for a 47-yard touchdown catch to regain 10-point lead. Just because Stamps is struggling, you don’t want to ignore one of the best pass-catchers in the CFL.
With people still debating whether Alex Brink should get the hook, the starter suddenly embraced his inner Doug Flutie and completed a Hail Mary to Chris Matthews on the last play of the half.
Just before that, I was among those who thought Joey Elliott should replace Brink in the second half. But Brink then led the offence down the field to get a field goal to pull within 11-4.
Brink had had a solid start until the Eskies figured out how to get pressure on him. On both of his interceptions, his arm was hit by a blitzing Eskie. And yes, he should have eaten the ball on both.
Back to classroom
Hey Bomber special teams coaches, time to take your charges back to the classroom. Remind them that the punter can recover his own punts without having to give yards. And your returners (Hello, Desmond Washington) are allowed to get up and run if they fall and no one downs them. This is Game 5 (plus two exhibition games) and they STILL don’t know the rules? Yikes!
The Bombers got a moral victory early. They led 1-0 after the first 15 minutes, their first lead in the first quarter all season. I’m guessing they would’ve been happy with a 4-0 victory … Simpson looked like he had a knee problem late in the first quarter, and left the game. He came back only to fumble the ball away on a rare screen pass, spoiling a promising drive .. The Bomber defence looked like it was getting its swagger back in the first quarter. Jyles was under constant pressure and his receivers were covered well.
Nice onfield halftime tribute to former Bomber head coach/GM Cal Murphy put together by his widow, Joyce Murphy, and Joe Pascucci. Heartfelt speeches by ex-president Ted Bartman and former Bomber punter Bob Cameron. Murphy passed away earlier this year … A moment of silence was given for former Bombers assistant coach Richard Harris before the game started. Nice touch.