Today's message is brought to you by former NFL head coach, turned analyst, Herm Edwards, who way back in 2002 reminded everyone that you "play to win the game." You don't play not to lose, you don't play to tie, and you don't play to bide for more time. You play to win the game.
It has gotten to the point that being critical of the Bombers is akin to piling on. After the nature of the loss that they suffered on Friday, there is nothing to be gained by heaping more criticism and damnation on top of a 2 and 10 record. It speaks loudest by itself. So let's call this piece a suggestion box, and a difference of opinion, instead of simply a condemnation.
In any game that is lost in the final minutes, or in overtime, there is a sequence of events that the observers of the game wish they had back. "If only the team had done this, at this time, and this way, things might have worked out differently." Such is the beauty of second guessing and critiquing after the fact, you are never proven wrong because the exact scenario can never be recreated.
In Friday's game, though, a game where at one point the Blue and Gold were up twenty to zippity do dah, all anybody wants back are the twenty something seconds that were left on the clock, in the fourth quarter, with the ball on the thirty. That was the moment when the team decided to kneel down for two consecutive plays and wait for overtime to come.
I think I understand the thought process of what happened next. Their starting quarterback had recently gotten hurt, they were at least forty yards away from rouge territory, and Justin Goltz had two reps under his belt. They had less than zero momentum after giving up a late field goal and an improbable catch, and the coach admitted he figured they could rally in overtime.
Yet if there is one thing Bomber fans and observers have come to realize over the years, it is that any amount of time is enough time. It was enough for Milt Stegall to catch a Kevin Glenn prayer on the last play of the game and defeat the Eskimos, and it was enough time for Travis Lulay and Darian Durant to orchestrate drives to beat Winnipeg twice last year. When there is enough time to hope, there is enough time to try.
The absolute last thing you can do, when on offence with an opportunity in front of you to win the game, is worry about losing. The reason you have an offence in the first place is to advance the ball and score points. If you are worried about turning the ball over at the end of the game and losing, then put the defence back out on the field.
No matter who was playing quarterback, the chances of completing two passes are greater than the odds of an interception. Sure, the comeback wasn't probable, it wasn't likely to happen, but they had a better chance of hitting two throws and kicking a ball through the endzone for a single point than a pick and return that put the opposition in scoring range. After the game I told Goltz that he should have changed the call that came in from the sidelines and just gone for it. It could have been a sequence of plays that forever changed the perception of his arm accuracy. And who knows, had they allowed Boltus to enter the game like he was supposed to, he could have been that guy who began an illustrious career with the Blue and Gold after completing his first two passes ever, that put the team in position to win by a single point. Throw the ball once to Aaron Kelly, and then to Terrance Edwards. One of them has been catching everything in his postal code since he got here, and the other is as clutch a receiver as Winnipeg has. No matter what happened as a result, how can you be faulted for trying to win the game?
When you play not to lose, not only does the opposite usually happen, but you leave everyone wondering about what might have been. And in a season like what we are going through, it makes you wonder, what exactly did they have to lose?
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, usually appears Tuesdays and the days following game days in the Free Press.