If there is one thing that has impressed me more than anything else this football season, it is how the Bomber defence has not gone completely postal on the offence.
Two years ago -- Sept. 30, 2011, to be exact -- we had a home game against the Montreal Alouettes. With only seconds remaining in the game, down by six points, our offence had the ball on the one-yard line and ran the wedge on two successive plays. Both plays were stuffed and the official ruled that at no point did the football cross into the end zone. Game, set and match for the Als, who left the field with a 32-26 victory.
Watching from the sideline, we were stunned and in disbelief.Even though the world's worst pass interference call and swan dive from Greg Carr was the only reason we were on the one-yard line, we simply could not believe our offence couldn't gain a single yard to win the football game
As a defence, we knew first-hand how hard it is to stop a team from gaining a yard or less, because you are already lined up a yard off the ball. On every CFL snap there are 36 inches of free space just waiting to be eaten up, and if you know the snap count, you should be able to get there first.
Afterwards, the entire team hadn't even made it into the locker room before one of the linebackers on defence looked over towards where the offence resided, and exclaimed, "You couldn't even gain, one, #$@%$&, yard?!" An offensive lineman immediately jumped up, and said, "Just who exactly are you calling out?", and as he made his way over to confront the linebacker, he was greeted with a left hook to the face for his troubles.
This scenario unfolded on a team that was 8-4 at the time and eventually made it to the Grey Cup.
While the defence was, without question, the strength of that football team, the offence still had 326 yards of passing and 97 yards on the ground that day, for a total of 423 yards, with Alex Brink at the controls. Fast forward two years later to the 2013 season, and in the last game against the Leos, the offence threw for 228 yards and had 32 yards on the ground, for a total of 260 yards, before we even factor in losses and talk about turnovers.
The fact the members of the 2013 defence have kept their relative cool throughout this season of offensive ineptitude is a miracle and deserving of a humanitarian award. Not only is this defence directly responsible for the only wins the team has this year, but they have played well enough to win at least half the games, and have been forced to watch their offensive counterparts get progressively worse.
In all the years I have watched and played football, I cannot recall a single instance where the opposition's defence actually outscored the offence they are up against.
It is one thing to be on a bad football team where all three phases are equally inept. When you are on a team where one phase is often good enough to win, another average (special teams), and one is the sole reason you are 2-11, then the potential for a divided and hostile locker room is imminent.
The fact this defence is still part of a relatively harmonious and collective team tells you all you need to know about their character. The kind of maturity, poise, and restraint they are demonstrating right now is commendable, but it won't and can't last forever.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and the days following game days in the Free Press.