TORONTO — Someone apparently forgot to tell the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the rest of their season is meaningless.
A spirited and feisty, but also dirty and undisciplined Bombers squad dragged their miserable 3-13 record into Rogers Centre Thursday night and bludgeoned the heavily favoured Toronto Argonauts with it.
Winnipeg lost 36-21 of course — it’s what these 2013 Bombers do — but that had more to do with the defence’s complete failure to shut down Argos QB Ricky Ray than it did with any disinterest you might expect from a squad in the hopeless situation the Bombers find themselves.
Winnipeg hit, hard and often. They were still within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, despite Ray throwing for over 500 yards for the first time in his illustrious career and setting an Argos franchise record for completions in a game with 39. The Bombers had their chances to win this game, against all odds and a 10.5 point spread.
The Bombers tried hard, in other words. They just weren’t good enough. And that, in two sentences, sums up a season for Winnipeg that is jeopardy of now going down in the history books for its futility.
At 3-14, the Bombers need to win their final regular-season game a week Saturday at home against Hamilton or they will tie the infamous and helpless 1998 squad coached by Jeff Reinbold for the worst record ever posted in an 18-game season by a Bombers team.
Max Hall good, Ricky Ray spectacular
Bombers QB Max Hall went 17-of-32 for 257 yards, two TDs and 0 INTs — all of which would have been a pretty good night, especially given the low standard set by Bombers quarterbacks in 2013. Except for two things:
First, Hall failed to finish the game, leaving late in the fourth quarter after he was flattened by the Argos’ Marcus Ball. The Bombers said after the game Hall had a hip injury.
And second, Hall was damned by comparison on a night Argos QB Ricky Ray set a franchise record for consecutive completions (21) and completions in a game (39) and a personal record for yards passing in a single game (505).
The teams combined for 15 penalties for 171 yards — in the first half. The infraction tally included five unnecessary roughness penalties, one objectional conduct and two roughing the passers — again, just in the first half alone.
At one point in the first half, the Bombers took three major penalties on one play — a roughing the passer call against defensive lineman Greg Peach and unnecessary roughness and objectionable conduct penalties against defensive back Brandon Stewart.
Bombers head coach Tim Burke said after the game there will be fines — lots of them, it sounds like — for the Bombers players who lost their heads at Rogers Centre.
A Scary Moment
Argos DB Neiko Thorpe spent the better part of 15 minutes lying immobile on the turf at Rogers Centre after a goal-line collision with Bombers tailback Will Ford. Thorpe was attended to by the medical staffs of both teams and paramedics before being strapped to a spinal board and carted off the field. He appeared conscious and made a hand gesture as he left the field.
The Argos reported at half-time Thorpe had been taken to a Toronto hospital for further evaluation.
With the win the Argos (11-6) finish first in the East Division for the first time since 2007.