December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
GUELPH, Ont. — So, are you one of those glass-half-full or glass-half-empty folks?
If you’re the former, let me be the first to congratulate you — your football team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, are tied for first in the East Division this morning.
Alas, if you’re the latter, let me be the first to offer my condolences — your football team, the Blue Bombers, are tied for last in the East Division this morning.
A 25-20 Winnipeg loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Alumni Stadium Saturday night dropped the Bombers record to 1-2 and improved previously winless Hamilton to 1-2.
Coincidentally, that’s also the records of the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, meaning all four East Division teams head into Week 4 of the 2013 season with absolutely nothing settled — other than the East definitely looks like the weak sister in this year’s CFL.
They gavechaddaball — sort of...
Bombers tailback Chad Simpson ripped off the longest run of his CFL career early in the second quarter, shredding a porous Ticats run defence en route to a 75-yard TD for Winnipeg’s first score of the game.
After rushing for just 90 yards in the Bombers’ first two games of the season, Simpson more than doubled that in the first half alone Saturday, rushing for 100 first-half yards on just five carries.
Simpson also rattled off a 15-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter that got the Bombers close. But by night’s end, Simpson had a bloated 116 yards and two TDs to his credit, yet just a paltry 11 carries that begged the most obvious question of the night — why didn’t he have more carries?
Head coach Tim Burke said after the game he didn’t know the answer to the question, but will be asking offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton.
Paging Chris Matthews — still...
The Bombers did all they could to get the 2012 CFL rookie of the year more involved in the offence, throwing to Matthews again and again — often deep, often errantly and often when he was well covered.
The final result was for all the balls that went Matthews’ way, he still finished the night with just two catches for 35 yards and now has only 76 receiving yards through three games.
The best offence is still...
...always going to be a good defence in Winnipeg. While Hamilton put up 391 yards in net offence against Winnipeg’s defence — and Henry Burris was vastly more effective than Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo was last week —the Bombers defence also sacked Burris 7 times, which is normally more than enough to win your team the game.
What about Buck...
Pierce’s numbers were uninspired — 15-26, 185 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions — and he was on the throwing end of an exceptional number of errant and uncatchable passes.
But Pierce was also sacked six times, which didn’t help. Still, the most important thing is that he lived to fight another day and Pierce said at night’s end that while he was sore, he came out of the game healthy.
Anything but special...
The Bombers special teams had an appalling game as Mike Renaud shanked a 26-yard punt, threw an interception on a hopelessly botched fake punt and dropped the hold on a convert attempt after Chad Simpson’s second-quarter TD.
Add to that Justin Palardy clanging a 40-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright and then booting two kickoffs out of bounds and that sound you heard last night was special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson removing paint from the Bombers dressing-room wall.
The Bombers return home for a pair of games at Investors Group Field — next Friday against the Toronto Argonauts and July 26 against the Calgary Stampeders.