Perhaps the only compelling storyline heading into Winnipeg's final regular-season game of 2012 was what, if any, lessons could be drawn about the quarterbacking situation moving forward.
Blue Bombers backups Alex Brink and Justin Goltz as well as Montreal Alouettes backup Adrian McPherson -- a starter Saturday -- were all being auditioned by a Bombers coaching staff that will have to make some hard decisions about whether to move forward in 2013 with oft-injured Buck Pierce as the No. 1 guy or look elsewhere for the Next One.
Of the three quarterbacks on the field Saturday, the only really known quantity was Brink, who in his fourth start of 2012 put in another workmanlike performance that did nothing to hurt his chances for some consideration. Brink's numbers were solid if unspectacular -- 17-26 for 173 yards, 1 INT, 58 yards rushing -- but need to be considered in the context of a Bombers offence that was without many key starters to begin with and then lost the most talented one they still did have when rookie receiver Chris Matthews was knocked out -- literally -- in the third quarter.
"I think I played well today," said Brink, who played the first three quarters before the coaches gave Goltz the ball in the fourth. "I think we had only one or two two-and-outs. For the most part, I felt like we put some drives together when we needed them."
Goltz was also pleased with his performance. While his numbers were much more modest than Brink's -- 3-5, 30 yards, plus 32 yards rushing and 1 TD -- so was his playing time. But given his most meaningful playing time in two-plus seasons in Winnipeg, Goltz made the most of his opportunity and was the quarterback of record when the game was won in the final quarter.
"This was an opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it. I waited a little over two years to get this opportunity and I didn't want to let it slip out of my hands," said Goltz.
"It's very satisfying. It hasn't been tough, but I have had to patient. A young kid -- developing patience is kind of a difficult thing sometimes. But I'm very grateful for the opportunity this club has given me."
And then there was McPherson, who was making just his fifth start in his five seasons in Montreal -- and first since 2010. Playing behind future hall-of-famer Anthony Calvillo, McPherson has had little chance to show what he can do and that's not likely to change much in 2013 with Calvillo expected to return for at least one more season.
With McPherson becoming a free agent this winter and the Bombers potentially in the market for a new No. 1, there was more attention than usual on an opposing team's backup quarterback Saturday. McPherson had reasonable numbers in the air -- 17-26 for 193 yards -- but was most effective on the ground, where he rushed for 102 yards and a TD on a day when his default setting anytime he couldn't find his first read open seemed to be to simply take off and run.
That's probably a bit too predictable and the Bombers defence sniffed it out after a rough first quarter, but by day's end it still raised the question whether McPherson had done anything to whet the appetite of the Bombers brass.
Head coach Tim Burke wasn't talking -- "Let's talk next week about hypotheticals. Right now I just want to talk about the win."
So the same question was put to Bombers cornerback Jovon Johnson, who had to defend against McPherson all day.
"He has a lot of tools that a team can win with. He's definitely a tremendous athlete with his feet," said Johnson. "With the running game that we possess and having a quarterback that could run, he could possibly be a fit for us. But who knows? We might not go in that direction."