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Tag it and bag it

Bungling Bombers' horrendous season can't end soon enough

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They've stumbled. They've bumbled. They've found increasingly new ways to lose.

But it wasn't until Friday night at Investors Group Field that the 2013 Winnipeg Blue Bombers committed the worst infraction a professional sports franchise can commit -- they embarrassed themselves, their fans and their city with an effort so gutless it was hard to call it an effort at all.

A Will Ford fumble on the opening play from scrimmage was returned 30 yards for a B.C. touchdown and set the tone for a game that would see the Lions score three defensive touchdowns on a hapless Bombers offence and romp to a 53-17 win before 29,457 long-suffering Bombers..

The win improved B.C. to 9-4 and dropped Winnipeg to 2-11, with the bottom still nowhere in sight to a Bombers season well on its way to going down as one of the worst in franchise history.

Can't anyone hang on to the ball?

The remarkable thing about Winnipeg's four first half turnovers -- two fumbles and two Max Hall interceptions -- wasn't that they had four first-half turnovers.

It wasn't even that three of them were returned by the B.C. defence for touchdowns.

No, as bad as all that was, the worst part was it actually wasn't worse, with B.C. defenders dropping three other easy interceptions in the first half alone -- one of them on the Winnipeg five-yard line by DL Khreem Smith that would have been the fourth Lions defensive TD of the half.

Add to that the two kickoffs and a punt the Bombers fumbled but recovered in the first half and, as hard as it is to believe, they were actually lucky to be down just 33-14 heading into halftime.

Paging a QB... still

With three more interceptions Friday night -- two by Hall in the first half and one by backup Jason Boltus in relief in the second half -- Bombers QBs have now thrown 12 interceptions versus just three TD passes in their last six games.

That's a joke -- and it just got funnier Friday as Hall once again showed that while he does move the ball better than anyone else the Bombers have auditioned behind centre this year, he also turns it over way too frequently to be a viable long-term starter.

Boltus was no better, throwing an interception and adding a fumble of his own to a gong show that by night's end saw the Bombers turn the ball over seven times.

Come on, give us some reason to hope.

Fine. Here: Bombers slotback Clarence Denmark had two TD catches in the first half -- a CFL career high.

And the Bombers defence played OK, holding the B.C. offence -- that was missing Lulay, mind you -- to just 202 yards of passing.

Uncrowded house?

While the Bombers announced a crowd of 29,457, there were thousands and thousands of no-shows and the stadium looked positively cavernous at opening kickoff.

What about Buck?

With nothing else to cheer for, the crowd at IGF took up a chant late in the third quarter of "We Want Buck" -- a reference to former Bombers starter Buck Pierce who was traded to the Lions two weeks ago.

The Lions finally acquiesced in the fourth quarter, sending Pierce into the game -- to a standing ovation -- in relief of starter Thomas DeMarco with the Lions up 47-14.

Up next

The truly frightening thing about the debacle was that a Bombers team that got humiliated at home by a so-so Lions squad missing their starting quarterback must now face the best team in the CFL next Saturday at McMahon Stadium, where the Calgary Stampeders have lost just once in their last 12 regular-season games.

Does the scoreboard in Calgary go up to three digits?

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 28, 2013 C1

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