Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

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HE was the top defensive player in the CFL in 2011 and, at times, he looked every bit of it again on Thursday night, recovering two fumbles for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their 32-25 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium.

Cornerback Jovon Johnson also made a big contribution on special teams Thursday, most notably on a nifty dead-leg missed field goal return that saw Johnson catch the Ticats napping when they thought he was going to concede a single in the end zone only to instead return it 51 yards to midfield.

But for all of his contributions on Thursday, there was also no escaping the fact that a defensive lapse by Johnson late in the fourth quarter very nearly cost his team the game as Hamilton receiver Chris Williams undressed the Bombers defender on an 84-yard game-tying touchdown catch with under five minutes to play.

"He came off slow and I relaxed on the play," Johnson explained. "I was looking in the backfield at the same time and when I saw the quarterback (Henry Burris) step up, I thought he was going to be sacked.

"So I kinda just relaxed on the play and he took off. It was sort of a double move, but still, at the end of the day, I've got to be there to make that play."

Johnson said the improved play of the defence Thursday had its roots in an attitude adjustment the unit brought to practice earlier in the week. "It all started with us doing it at practice and not joking around and taking this more seriously," said Johnson. "I think guys are buying into what we're doing and we're getting better."


BOMBERS head coach Paul LaPolice told reporters on Friday that he was mostly pleased with what he saw on the film of his team's victory over Hamilton -- and told them so.

"We talked to our team about (how) we fought hard," LaPolice said, "whether it was offence, defence or special teams."

But true to form, LaPolice also found things in the tape that need work. "Certainly there were also some mistakes...and we have to play more consistent football to win games.

"Because when you get six turnovers, it should be an even bigger margin of victory. But, hey, we'll take a win when we take a win. I'm proud -- (Hamilton) scored a touchdown at the end of the game and we responded and went the length of the field with it. That doesn't happen often...

"It was a good win and we'll have to get better."


LAPOLICE said the Bombers had three new players on special teams Thursday evening -- and a new punt team captain now that Brady Browne is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon -- and some of that inexperience led to the second-quarter breakdown that saw Hamilton's Chris Willams romp 72 yards for a punt-return touchdown.

"The return for the touchdown, we had the two new guys out of their lanes and we have to fix that," LaPolice said. "(But) we did some really good things on special teams too."

LaPolice cited in particular a fumble forced by linebacker Henoc Muamba on another Williams' punt return late in the third quarter that led directly to the game-tying touchdown.

The Bombers players were in meetings and watching film on Friday morning and will now get the weekend off before returning to the practice field on Monday in preparation for hosting the B.C. Lions next Friday.

-- Wiecek


Hef finds his groove

Bombers strong-side linebacker Jonathan Hefney recorded his first sack Thursday evening from his new position and generally looked more comfortable and enthusiastic than he has this season in his new role with the defence.

"I thought he played well," said LaPolice. "Probably one of his best games at SAM this year."

Hefney said after the game he had only one regret about his sack. "It was fun but (Burris) kind of ducked on me so I didn't get to hit him all the way," Hefney said. "Still, I'll always take a sack."

Hefney said there should be no cause for celebration in the Bombers locker-room just yet. "People had a right to doubt us because we were 1-5. Now we're 2-5. Hopefully, we'll come in next week and try to get a win -- 3-5. But it's not satisfying to me because we want to win more games."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2012 C3

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