LaPolice gets it right
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Chris Matthews breaks a tackle by Edmonton Eskimos defensive back Rod Williams during CFL football in Winnipeg Thursday July 26, 2012. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Paul LaPolice hemmed and hawed a bit before deciding to go ahead with what ultimately resulted in a Hail Mary touchdown toss at the end of the first half on Thursday night.
Winnipeg had the ball at Edmonton’s 40-yard line, and there were seven seconds on the clock. LaPolice was trying to decide if that was enough time to do one more play and get into field goal position.
He ultimately made the right call, and offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton’s decision for Chris Matthews to go deep worked. Quarterback Alex Brink’s intended receiver was covered, so he went to his next choice, Matthews, who fought off Esks defensive back Ronnie Prude and made a 40-yard grab to get the Bombers to within three points at 21-18 at the break en route to 23-22 Blue Bombers victory.
“That seven-second point is such a hard one, because if you throw the hitch, try to get out of bounds … and I’d seen earlier in the game they were really holding our guys up. I felt they were letting the clock run,” LaPolice said. “I just didn’t have a lot of faith that if we get that … and all of a sudden you don’t get another play.”
LaPolice has made some questionable on-field decisions in his time as head coach, but that was the right one. A 48-yard field goal attempt into the wind wasn’t an option, and you’re always playing with fire when you leave it in the players’ hands to get down with time remaining on the clock.
The only mistake made was Matthews in the end zone should have been the first choice instead of the second.
Brink completed a career-high 26 passes on Thursday night and earned his first win as a starting quarterback at the pro level.
“That’s shocking to me, because I thought he had gotten some wins before,” left tackle Glenn January said. “I look forward to seeing him blossom into a veteran quarterback, even though he’s been in the league for a few years.”
Brink had recorded a victory before, leading the Bombers to victory one year ago today against the B.C. Lions, but that came in relief of an injured Buck Pierce. Brink is 2-7 as Winnipeg’s quarterback of record.
Slotback Terrence Edwards, who caught seven passes for 67 yards in the 23-22 win over Edmonton, said Brink kept his wits about him when the going got tough in the second quarter and he threw two interceptions.
“He stayed in there and showed his composure, and he led us to victory,” Edwards said. “You gotta look at the positive in that.”
— with Ken Wiebe files