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Cheap and dirty indeed

Riders O-line far from fancy, but it wins the battles

Posted: 08/7/2014 11:48 PM | Comments: 0

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Dominic Picard and Brendon LaBatte may be cheap and dirty, as Bombers defensive lineman Zach Anderson pointed out this week, but they’re not sexy.

Not in the football sense of the word or in any sense imaginable. Believe me, I’ve seen them both in various stages of undress and it ain’t easy on the eyes.

But let them do their thing and they win football games.

Mid-summer games, day games, night games, cold weather games and yes, championship games, all happen to be of the type the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their offensive line can win.

At its very core, football is about pushing the other guys out of the way. Thursday night the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got pushed halfway to Regina.

The Roughriders and their big boys gave Winnipeg’s grunts more than they could handle and eventually took over the game.

Late in the fourth quarter with the score still tight, Riders offensive co-ordinator George Cortez put his exotic playbook in a drawer and called one run play after another.

Eventually, power football won out over Hail Mary football.

While the Riders were content to plod and grind and wait for mistakes, the Bombers were forced to take chances. Chances that ended up in errors and points against.

One brand of football makes for highlights. The other ends up with an organization forking out for chunky rings smiling diamond smiles.

Sooner or later the line of scrimmage tells the tale and for the Blue Bombers the story turned sour on Thursday night.

They collided head on with the CFL’s best defensive lineman in John Chick and the top offensive line in the country. Chick was wild and unharnessed all night, collecting three sacks. LaBatte, the CFL’s best on the offensive line, et al swung open the gate for Jerome Messam to gallop through.

Messam finished the night with 126 yards while Winnipeg’s running backs Nic Grigsby and Paris Cotton had a collective eight yards. Yup, eight yards.

The Bombers have been a great story to date. A page-turner. The Riders, however, are a heavy tome which will last well into the winter.

One could call hot-type reads such as the Bombers perfect beach books. Eventually though, fall rolls around and the heavy lifting must begin. Enter much sturdier stock. Enter the Riders.

To date the Bombers and their 5-2 record have been a brilliant story. But, despite head coach Mike O’Shea’s insistence this wasn’t a measuring-stick game, June and July wins are only the beginning of the story.

As O’Shea also said this week, the wins become harder to come by as the season grows older.

The Riders are the Grey Cup champs. Of course, this was a measuring-stick game. Every team in the league is chasing Saskatchewan until they aren’t champs any more.

The Bombers faithful can now look ahead to two more games with these same Riders in the next four on the schedule.

Losing three in a row to your Prairie cousins would be less than palatable. But until the Bombers can figure out a way to handle the heavy going on the line of scrimmage they are going to have some trouble on their hands. Big trouble.

It’s unfair to call the Bombers a cute story. They’re more than that and there’s lots of season left to unfold. GM Kyle Walters watched this game and won’t be sitting still. He’ll be looking for ways to improve. To get bigger and faster and meaner on both his offensive and defensive lines.

Maybe Walters will even find a way to get a little cheaper and dirtier. Turns out, cheap and dirty gets the job done.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Drew Willy goes up and over Saskatchewan Roughriders Ricky Foley (95) Thursday night at Inverstors Group Field in Winnipeg.

    Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers Drew Willy goes up and over Saskatchewan Roughriders Ricky Foley (95) Thursday night at Inverstors Group Field in Winnipeg.

  • Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) attempts to recover a loose ball intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday.

    John Woods / The Canadian Press

    Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) attempts to recover a loose ball intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) gets the throw away despite pressure from Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) during the first half of the game.

    John Woods / The Canadian Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) gets the throw away despite pressure from Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) during the first half of the game.

  • With Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) on his back Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) dives across the line for the touchdown during the first half.

    John Woods / The Canadian Press

    With Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) on his back Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) dives across the line for the touchdown during the first half.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Julian Feoli-Gudino (83) gets all wrapped up in Saskatchewan's Tyron Brackenridge's (41) defence late in the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Thursday.

    Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers Julian Feoli-Gudino (83) gets all wrapped up in Saskatchewan's Tyron Brackenridge's (41) defence late in the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Thursday.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Taylor Renaud (88) reaches around Darian Durant (4) to stymie a pass late in the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

    Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers Taylor Renaud (88) reaches around Darian Durant (4) to stymie a pass late in the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Demond Washington (7) leaves a trail of fallen Saskatchewan Roughriders defenders behind him.

    Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers Demond Washington (7) leaves a trail of fallen Saskatchewan Roughriders defenders behind him.

  • Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) knocks Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Robert Marve (16) out of bounds on a short yardage attempt.

    John Woods / The Canadian Press

    Saskatchewan Roughriders' Samual Hurl (31) knocks Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Robert Marve (16) out of bounds on a short yardage attempt.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) celebrates his touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders with Chris Greaves (64).

    John Woods / The Canadian Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy (5) celebrates his touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders with Chris Greaves (64).

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