Buck Pierce makes all the difference in Blue Bombers win

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:59 AM ET

WINNIPEG - So that’s what it takes to get the Blue Bombers out of one of the worst funks in franchise history.

Show ’em how the entire country is laughing at them, give ’em back their starting quarterback and, last but certainly not least, give ’em the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as the opposition.

The team Winnipeggers sometimes hate to love Friday night proved not all its players are dying to get this season over with and head home.

Scoring their first touchdown in a month and their first passing major in six weeks, for the love of Ken Ploen, the Bombers won their first in the post-LaPolice era, 34-12 over the toothless Tabbies.

Not that it matters who they played — the way this team was going, it would have gladly taken a win against the Saskatoon Sirens of the Lingerie League.

Give them credit for stripping the Tiger-Cats of whatever dignity they’d mustered in clobbering Edmonton a week ago.

But keep in mind this Hamilton defence has been as scantily clad, compared to the rest of the CFL, as the stark-naked Winnipeg offence had been.

If the Bombers had gone without a TD against these guys, with Buck Pierce back at the helm, it really would have been time to lock the doors at the Ruins for good.

Pierce was sensational, but not in a bombs-away, throw-the-ball-all-over-the-field sort of way.

All it takes is quick decisions, a healthy dose of accuracy and some veteran moxie. After knocking off some early rust, No. 4 had all those in spades.

“Nothing against the quarterbacks we had, but it was a huge difference,” running back Chad Simpson said. “We just jelled. He’s a veteran with experience and he showed that.”

As a rookie, Simpson wasn’t half-bad, either, piling up 134 yards along the ground and catching balls for another 58.

But some of that work was also as a result of having the veteran at quarterback.

“A lot of the pass plays we called I ended up handing off because of the defensive looks,” Pierce said. “We used their defensive structure against them. That’s what this offence can do if you execute it right and read your keys as a quarterback.”

The last several weeks, we saw what it can do when those things don’t happen.

“You could see he was hungry for a win, because he’s been out eight weeks,” receiver Cory Watson said of Pierce. “He makes the world of difference.”

Taking his leadership into the locker-room after the game, Pierce gave a game ball to beleaguered offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, as if to tell the team this is the wagon we’re hitched to, so let’s all start pulling in the same direction.

Yes, the Big Blue looked like a different team with Pierce calling the shots, and I’m not just talking about the offence.

It’s as if the defence finally had some hope, too, that if they held a team to a few field goals, they’d still have a shot.

So they held the Ticats to four, wiping yet another smile off Hank Burris’s face, and that’s twice this season they’ve done that.

I mean, 30 first downs to 12?

Night and day aren’t as different as the Bombers from last week to this.

Maybe interim coach Tim Burke ought to show clips of TV commentators slamming his team every week. Guess they hadn’t been reading this space enough.

“We had a come-to-Jesus moment last week,” O-lineman Glenn January said, presumably referring to hitting rock bottom and realizing they needed salvation. “And we answered the call.”

The good lord will have to be there for them for a while longer, because at 3-9 it’s still Mount Sinai in front of them.

“The monkey ain’t off the back, yet,” is how Simpson put it. “We have to win out and get into these playoffs.”

References to Jesus and monkeys in the same room — go figure.


Videos

Photos