December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
And with that, it is now — mercifully — all over except for the crying. Oh, and an off-season reckoning that promises to be one for the ages.
Whatever designs the 2013 Winnipeg Blue Bombers retained about somehow sneaking into the CFL playoffs were formally extinguished at Investors Group Field Saturday afternoon with a 26-20 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.
The loss dropped the Bombers to 3-13 and means a Winnipeg franchise that plays in a league where six of the eight teams make the playoffs has now failed to qualify for the post-season in four of the last five years.
That is a damning statistic. But there is another statistic that speaks even louder to how hopeless this team has been the last few seasons — the Winnipeg Football Club has not won two games in a row since August, 2011 and with Saturday’s loss — coming after a win in Montreal last week — are now 0-13 the week after a win.
Reckoning? Bring it.
The woeful season was neatly summarized in all its ineptitude in one three-play series late in the second quarter.
With Winnipeg trailing 20-3 but threatening on the Toronto 19-yard line, Bombers QB Max Hall hit slotback Cory Watson in the end zone with a perfect ball, but Watson dropped it.
One play later, Hall appeared to have Clarence Denmark wide open in the back of the end zone for another sure TD but Hall’s pass, against all odds, hit the upright and bounced harmlessly to the ground.
And then, forced to settle for a 26-yard field-goal attempt, the Bombers even blew that as the ball slipped off the tee and holder Mike Renaud was forced to scramble and throw incomplete, giving the Argos the ball on downs.
It was a microcosm of the entire season:
Failure to do the simple things right? Tick.
Unlucky even when they did do something right? Tick.
Gross incompetence? — tick, tick, tick.
The normally anemic Bombers offence erupted for 466 yards as QB Max Hall threw an eye-popping 50 times against Toronto, but it still wasn’t enough in a game in which the Bombers spotted Toronto a 23-3 lead at halftime.
Winnipeg went on a 17-0 run in the second half to get within a field goal, but a late Toronto field goal and poor execution by the Bombers late in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Toronto.
A botched field goal. A botched snap. A time-count violation. Five turnovers. Nine penalties for 99 yards.
In isolation, the Bombers could have probably overcome any one of those things and still won on this day against a team in Toronto that wasn’t sharp on offence, defence or special teams.
But put all those problems together — as Winnipeg has so often this season — and the Bombers basically gift-wrapped an end to the two-game losing streak Toronto had on the go.
The Bombers have now lost seven of their first eight regular-season games at Investors Group Field — and it showed in all the empty seats masquerading as an announced crowd of 28,869.
The rules say the Bombers must play on and so play on they will, travelling to Toronto this week where they will play the Argos at Rogers Centre on Thursday in what will be Winnipeg’s third game in 11 days.
The Bombers finish their season at home on Nov. 2 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 1:39 PM CDT:
added video, art
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 2:18 PM CDT:
Changed game day roster change.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 3:18 PM CDT:
first quarter summary
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM CDT:
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM CDT:
First half update
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM CDT:
added new photos
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM CDT:
New photos added.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 4:43 PM CDT:
third quarter update
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 4:52 PM CDT:
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM CDT:
Adds slide show, updates headline with final score.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM CDT:
rewrites lede with info from game final.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM CDT:
Replaces text with game summary.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:26 PM CDT:
Adds Burke, Sims-Walker video.
Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 8:22 PM CDT:
Updates with full write-thru.