Week 6 of the CFL season brought a first for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In their 27-26 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, it was the first time this season Winnipeg’s defence held its opponent to less than 300 yards of net offence.
After gaining just 22 yards in the first half, Hamilton ended the night with 218 yards.
Still, the Bombers needed last-second heroics from running back Nic Grigsby, who caught Drew Willy’s second-and-goal pass from the two-yard-line.
Winnipeg racked up 396 yards of net offence on the night, the last two of them crucial.
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The defence did its job in the first half but the Bombers offence thought it should have delivered more than a 13-3 lead when the yards gained were 245-22 in the visitors’ favour.
"Oh, definitely," quarterback Drew Willy said. "Those first couple of drives, to come away with six points (two field goals) is a little disappointing. Obviously we got the win, that’s the biggest thing. We just want to clean that up, get seven instead of three."
Added head coach Mike O’Shea: "You’d like to get more. We’d like to have that field goal at the end of the half, like to go in with a little momentum. But we came out in the second half and shut them down right off the bat and scored the touchdown right away.
"You’d like to be more consistent throughout the entire game but we’ll correct that as we go on."
Winnipeg did take a 20-3 lead on Grigsby’s first touchdown of the game early in the third quarter, but that was followed by 23 straight Hamilton points.
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Winnipeg’s right guard Patrick Neufeld was injured on Thursday night and had to leave the game, bringing significant second-half playing time to rookie first-round draft pick Matthias Goossen.
There is yet no update on Neufeld’s injury or condition and no news is likely until O’Shea’s next scheduled interview on Sunday, as the Bombers take a couple of days off before preparations being for next Thursday’s home game vs. Saskatchewan.
The only other apparent injury issue for Winnipeg on Thursday night was Drew Willy’s throwing hand. The quarterback appeared to be in some discomfort after being rushed and knocked down by three Ticats at mid-game, but he soldiered on.
"I’ll be fine," Willy said. "I probably thought it was worse than it is. You’ve just got to play through it."
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More evidence of Willy’s high marks for Thursday’s game came in the distribution of the ball to his receivers.
Aaron Kelly, who made a crucial 16-yard catch on third-and-two during the game’s final drive, had seven receptions out of Willy’s 31 completions. Grigsby and Julian Feoli-Gudino each had six and Clarence Denmark had five.
The only receiver in Willy’s pack that didn’t have a catch was Rory Kohlert, though Willy threw to him several times.