Sometimes you know when a team wants it more. Last night at Canads Inn Stadium on a rare windless night, you just felt from the start that the Toronto Argonauts wanted this game more than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Bombers came out very slow and looked sluggish and paid for it with a 36-34 loss to the Argos allowing the Argos to end a nine game losing streak.
Buck Pierce, the hero against Hamilton the week before, had a number of missed passes to go with his attempted throw for a fumble and his throw for a pick in the first quarter. Toronto used those 2 turnovers and took advantage of good field position on kick/punt exchanges to take a 9-0 lead on three successful field goals.
The second quarter began with a methodical drive for QB Cleo Lemon and the Argos. They marched down the field and scored a short yardage touchdown by RB Cory Boyd who was rewarded for his ability to slip out of hard tackles for 3 to 5 extra yards. In fact the Bombers inability to keep Boyd from gaining those extra yards seemed to prove how much Toronto wanted to win this game.
Trailing 16-0 after about 20 minutes, The Bombers looked like they stepped out of 6 inches of mud and onto dry land. Pierce lead the Blue on three scoring drives, a 21 yard pass to Terrence Edwards, a 43 yard run by Pierce himself and a 25 yard field goal by Alexis Serna. The field goal was scored with 3 seconds left on the clock which provided a pivotal moment for the Argos on the ensuing kickoff. Serna kicked a short squib up the middle which DE Ejiro Kuale picked up and punted into the Bombers end zone for a single point. It was a brilliant play which allowed the Argos to knot the score at 17 before the half. More importantly it also proved pivotal in the endgame as it forced the Bombers to kick a convert and hope for an onside recovery. Had the Bombers been trailing by 2 points after their last minute TD they could have tried a two point convert to tie the score.
The 17 second quarter points by the Big Blue allowed them to hold their heads high as they walked off at the half. The crowd even clapped for them as they left the field, a rare event in 2009. One other mistake by the Bombers prior to the last minute field goal was to allow 5 seconds to come off the clock before calling a timeout. This kept the Bombers from taking a better shot at the end zone and properly running down the clock to the half.
The second half began for the Argos much as the first half had gone with another methodical nickel and diming drive capped off by a 9 yard run to the end zone by QB Lemon. Lemon took a punishing hit from Bomber safety Brady Browne at the goal line on the play. Lemon would sit out the next drive as backup Dalton Bell took control of the Argo offense and nearly through a pick on his first pass. Lemon would come back into the game after dealing with the effects of the hard hit.
Winnipeg used their 2nd quarter moment to score a field goal and a beautiful 60 yard catch and run TD by Terrence Jeffers-Harris. Jeffers-Harris broke a tackle and out raced the entire Argonaut defense to the end zone. This game was Jeffers-Harris’ coming out party as the rookie ended the game with 2 TDs and 152 yards.
Just when it looked like the Bombers might be getting a handle on the stubborn Argos, the special team failures of a week ago reared their ugly head. Early in the 4th quarter Chad Owen returned a missed 45 yard attempt field goal attempt for a TD to put the Argos ahead 31-27. The Argo defense clamped down and looked like the defense of the 1st 20 minutes of the game as they kept Pierce from making any headway. The Bombers finally had to concede a safety and took a stupid roughing out of bounds penalty on the ensuing kickoff. This put the Argos in field goal position and negated any field position advantage gained by giving up the safety. The Argos took advantage to run the clock down and add that field goal for a 9 point lead.
With two minutes to go Pierce finally recreated the magic he had in the mid portion of the game. He and Jeffers-Harris teamed up for a 3rd down conversion that turned into a 38 yard TD when the two Toronto secondary players bounced off Jeffers-Harris allowing him an easy stroll into the end zone. But the comeback stopped there as with 16 seconds left the Argos recovered the on-side kickoff attempt and sealed the game.
Toronto won the turnover battle and played error free football for the most part. Even though the Bombers offense ultimately outplayed their Toronto counterpart, the Argo defense came up with the stops when they needed to. With being outplayed on special teams once again, this time it came back to bite the Bombers as they came out on the short end of the scoreboard.
Hopefully the Blue will learn from their mistakes and this setback and come back stronger next week. The Bombers next game is Friday July 16th, a re-match of the season opener against Hamilton, but this time the Ti-Cats play host. In the meantime, for something fun, check out “Stack the Cups” on YouTube.
About the Author
Written by Jim Penner
I've been a life long Manitoban and a fan of the Bombers just as long!