MONTREAL — Too bad Investors Group Field wasn’t built in Montreal.
For the second time this season, third time in a row and fourth time in their last five games, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers emerged victorious in Montreal at Stade Molson, dropping the Alouettes 34-27 Monday in a chippy and mistake-filled game.
The win, which keeps Winnipeg’s narrow playoff hopes alive for another week, was just the third victory for Winnipeg in 15 games this year and it came in a game in which the Bombers were 11-point underdogs despite their recent successes in Montreal.
A total of seven Montreal turnovers — five in the first half — aided the Bombers’ cause immeasurably, but the Bombers offence also put up their best effort in almost half a season, racking up 309 net yards.
The win snapped a four-game Bombers losing streak — and six-game losing streak on the road. And while you can argue it’s all much too little, much too late — and you’d be right — that would also miss the exceptional effort put forth on this day by a Bombers team many had given up for dead.
"We haven’t exactly reached the summit of Everest here," said offensive lineman Glenn January, "but we did take a step in the right direction.
"We’ve got a group of guys who’ve decided they will play with passion and with pride and go out and prove that we’re not going to roll over. Who knows what tomorrow brings, but today we proved we can put it together and beat a tough divisional opponent."
An offensive offence finally finds traction
After yet another slow start saw the Bombers register just 59 yards of total offence through the first 28 minutes of the game, the Blue finally got rolling late in the second quarter as QB Max Hall put together a five-play, 77-yard drive, capped by a 40-yard TD strike to receiver Clarence Denmark.
It took even longer for the running game to get going — Winnipeg had just 10 rushing yards through the first three quarters — but a 69-yard Will Ford romp in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning TD proved to be all the running game the Bombers would need on this day.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The Bombers were a league-worst minus-26 in turnovers coming into Monday, but owned the turnover battle 7-2 on this day.
A Bombers defence that had recorded a league-worst seven interceptions all season added another four, while forcing Montreal to turn the ball over three times on downs.
By day’s end, a defence that surrendered 622 yards to Calgary one week earlier surrendered less than half that — 295 yards.
A costly win
The training staff was kept busy all day dealing with the injury fallout of an exceptionally hard-hitting game.
While several Bombers were helped from the field before later returning — including linebacker Ian Wild and offensive lineman Glenn January — there were three Bombers who left and did not return: S Jovon Johnson (ankle); DB Desia Dunn (ankle); Aaron Kelly (suspected concussion).
Head coach Tim Burke said after the game he did not know how serious the injuries were, or when — or if — the three players would return to play this season.
The Bombers playoff scenario remains the same — they need to win all of their remaining games and have Montreal lose all of theirs.
Winnipeg next plays this Saturday at Investors Group Field against the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos have the best road record in the CFL, while Winnipeg has the second-worst home record at 1-6.