TORONTO — This time Drew Willy couldn’t bail his teammates out. Not on the field and not in the locker-room after the game.
Willy was unable to pull off another late-game miracle and his Blue Bombers fell 38-21 to the Toronto Argonauts. And with few mistakes of his own on the night, Willy couldn’t take the bullet for his Bombers teammates, who struggled in a lifeless second half.
"They outplayed us. They did a lot right. You have to give them credit," said Willy, who finished the night completing 23 of 31 attempts for 193 yards and two touchdowns. "We were productive in the red zone because we had three touchdowns. I wouldn’t say I was less aggressive, but looking at the statistics I can see how you could say that. When you play (quarterback) Ricky Ray you know you are going to have to be productive. You need to put up points."
Blame it on the short week if you will and the hot conditions in Toronto’s enclosed baseball stadium (which converts poorly for football) appeared to sap the Bombers late, but in the end this was simply a beatdown.
"They beat us soundly. It’s pretty easy to see that. They certainly got us (Tuesday) night," said head coach Mike O’Shea. "They made more plays than us. That’s what it comes down to."
The line of scrimmage was once again an area of concern for the Bombers. The Argos were able to rush for more than 170 yards and quarterback Ray was left unpressured for most of the night. He cut the Bombers secondary to shreds, passing for four touchdowns and 297 yards with a completion percentage over 75.
"He can dice you up if you don’t get to him and we weren’t able to pressure him or force him into mistakes," said Bombers defensive tackle Greg Peach. "The fourth quarter, when we win games it’s because we own that last 15 minutes, but they took it to us for most of the second half and especially in the fourth. We have to be in better shape and we have to win the fourth quarter. We can fix that. And we will."
The Bombers opened the season with a 5-1 record but have now lost two straight to fall to 5-3. Upcoming are the lowly Montreal Alouettes before a home-and-home series with the charging Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Bad, Bad Bryant
Bombers wide receiver Romby Bryant had a terrible game, taking two objectionable conduct penalties and fumbling the ball early in the third quarter, which resulted in an Argos’ touchdown.
"I feel awful and I take this loss on my shoulders. The first penalty, I was just fooling around and the second one I didn’t think I did anything. The fumble? I just got surprised," said Bryant.
O’Shea wasn’t throwing his player under the bus.
"I’ll have to look at the film and see what happened, but Romby Bryant isn’t that type of player," said O’Shea. "He’s not a trash talker. He’s a pro and his teammates and myself appreciate him taking ownership, but I’ll have to have another look at it before I can say anything more."
To challenge or not to challenge
O’Shea elected not to throw a challenge flag on what appeared to be pass interference on a pass from Willy to Aaron Kelly in the third quarter.
"We talked about it. We looked at it. We didn’t think it was the right move at that time," said O’Shea. "I watch all the challenges and have a feel for what has been successful and what hasn’t and we didn’t think this would be a successful challenge."
The Bombers offensive line once again struggled, this time taking three penalties and allowing their quarterback to be sacked five times. The Bombers failed to rush for 100 yards and Willy was once again forced to try and win the game on his own down the stretch. It’s just not a winning formula.
"We have to be better," said Bombers offensive lineman Chris Greaves. "Any time you get beat you have to be better. We have to keep the quarterback upright and we have to open holes for the run game. We just didn’t get enough done and we have to get better."
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