Sports Football

Bombers lose to Stampeders, 32-21 0

By Kirk Penton, Winnipeg Sun

There haven’t been many masterpieces from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season.

On Saturday afternoon, however, they produced a perfect mosaic of everything that is wrong with them. It resulted in a 32-21 home loss to the Calgary Stampeders that has put them within a week of being finally eliminated from post-season contention.

Thanks to Edmonton’s 37-20 win over Saskatchewan on Saturday, the Bombers need to win their remaining three games, hope the Eskimos lose three in a row and then have Hamilton win no more than two of its last three.

No problem!

The beauty with which the Blue and Gold showed the world on Saturday why they’re a 4-11 team was quite impressive. You simply had to wander around the locker-room to locate the glaring mistakes GM Joe Mack made in putting this terrible team together.

Starting with the most important position of quarterback, Joey Elliott once again proved he’s still unable to handle man-to-man coverage. He accounted for half of Winnipeg’s whopping eight turnovers with four interceptions. Three of them were in the end zone, just like on Sept. 29 against Toronto.

Elliott threw so many interceptions he couldn’t remember how many he had in his post-game interview.

“We made three mistakes,” he said. “I thought we moved the ball offensively pretty well. The coach called on the offence to move up and down the field. We had lots of big plays. We were able to move the ball in the second half. … I gotta take full responsibility for those three mistakes.”

Elliott is now 0-4 this season against teams that play primarily man-to-man coverage, and he has no touchdowns and nine interceptions in those contests. Head coach Tim Burke hinted that Elliott, who is 2-8 as Winnipeg’s quarterback of record, has had more than enough time to prove he can get the job done.

Elliott had a golden opportunity to assert himself as the team’s quarterback of the future, especially after his player-of-the-week performance against Montreal on Thanksgiving. Instead, he threw it away once again.

“In Joey’s defence, he hasn’t played a lot of football,” Burke said. “I’m sure he’s still learning and all that, but I would have thought we could have got past at least some of those interceptions in the red zone.

“… If guys are perennial turnover machines then they can’t be put in that position to play.”

Then there’s Demond Washington, an Auburn product the Bombers waited for in training camp because they figured he could make an impact. Unfortunately for Washington, he failed to catch the first punt of the game, and it bounced off his face mask and into a Calgary player’s hands.

It was Washington’s fifth — and final — fumble of the season.

“You won’t see him returning any more punts. That’s it,” Burke said. “If I allowed that to continue, everybody in the city would go, ‘I’m an idiot.’ So I’m not going to let it continue.”

Finally, a private conversation revealed why the Bombers didn’t try a 52-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half. The Bombers can barely score points as it is, so they should have gone for the three.

It turns out they were going to, but apparently an offensive play call was sent in to Elliott on third-and-five. Before someone realized a mistake had been made, it was too late to trot out the field goal unit.

Add it all up, and it was Winnipeg’s seventh straight loss to Calgary and the Blue and Gold failed to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly 14 months.

They say insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result each time. After Saturday’s perfectly pitiful performance that looked all too familiar, it would be insane if the Bombers don’t make major moves this off-season.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/PentonKirk 

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