By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — For all intents and purposes, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers played quite well for a 4-11 football team and were close to beating a very good Calgary Stampeders club on Saturday afternoon in front of 25,462 at Canad Inns Stadium.
On the other hand, Winnipeg’s eight total turnovers — including quarterback Joey Elliott’s four interceptions, all either in the end zone or red zone — made it an easy victory for Calgary as they beat the Blue Bombers 32-21 to improve to 9-6 on the season.
“I’ve never been around a team that has turned the ball over (eight) times and won the game,” said Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke. “The two turnovers at the beginning of the game spotted them 14 points, so we’re playing from behind right from the get go.”
“We were in the game the whole way because I thought we played hard.”
Watch post-game reaction:
Hard, sure. Effective, maybe. But the offence failed to put points on the board after some promising drives deep into Stampeders territory.
“I’ve got to take full responsibility for those three mistakes,” said Elliott of his three picks while targeting receivers in the Calgary end zone. “You have to give credit to them too. They made some plays.”
“You take away those three turnovers and we’re right in the game.”
And he’s right. Switch those interceptions to chip-shot field goals instead, and the game would have been a lot closer.
Elliott, coming off CFL Offensive Player of the Week honours following the Bombers’ surprising 27-22 win in Montreal last week, went 22-of-33 for 284 yards and no touchdowns. But his four picks glare.
Running back Chad Simpson scored two of Winnipeg’s three touchdowns, rushing for 84 yards on 14 carries. Chris Matthews had the other via quarterback Alex Brink in a game where the wide receiver totaled 116 yards and became the first Bombers rookie to ever eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. Slotback Terrence Edwards led all Bombers receivers with nine receptions and 143 yards.
The Winnipeg defence kept former Bombers QB Kevin Glenn at bay after a rough opening half where the Stamps absolutely dominated time of possession and scored 26 points. The league’s leading rusher Jon Cornish put up 87 yards on 22 carries.
“They did a lot of things that they haven’t done before,” said Bombers linebacker Jovon Johnson. “I guess it was the game plan against me… they did a lot of things to put me (out of) leverage, so most of the game I was lined up against (Calgary slotback Nik Lewis) — I was chasing and not covering. But it was about them having a good game plan, not what he did.”
Meanwhile Johnson — the 2011 CFL Defensive Player of the Year while playing cornerback — struggled at times on Saturday while playing strongside linebacker and expressed his sentiments on the position change.
“Would I like to (play linebacker next season)? Absolutely not,” said Johnson. “But I guess if that’s what’s going to keep me around for a long time then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Maybe the Bombers’ brass need to re-assess the position after cutting veteran strongside linebacker Clint Kent in the preseason. Maybe they need to re-assess a few positions.
The cellar-dwelling Bombers have one remaining contest at the old stadium at Polo Park before moving to their new digs at the University of Manitoba — Saturday, November 3 against the rival Montreal Alouettes.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming