It was the one of the toughest calls Tim Burke has had to make in his short time as the Blue Bombers head coach and admittedly -- with hindsight fully in focus afterwards -- he wanted it back.
With his team up 23-22 and 55 seconds on the clock, the interim head coach made the decision to waste some time and punt from the Saskatchewan 36-yard line with the hopes of pinning the Roughriders deep, instead of going for the 43-yard field goal which, if made, would most likely have sealed a Bombers win.
Punter Mike Renaud managed to work the clock down to 37 seconds before kicking the football, but he missed the second part of his assignment. His boot sailed through the end zone, giving the visitors life.
Taking possession at his 35-yard line, Riders rookie backup quarterback Drew Willy needed just three plays to march the ball 43 yards and into field-goal range for kicker Sandro DeAngelis.
The rest, as they say, is history: Heartbreak city for Bomber fans.
"I'll be honest with you -- in retrospect, I should have kicked the field goal," Burke told a room full of reporters after the dust settled on the 25-24 Riders win in the 9th annual Banjo Bowl at Canad Inns Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"It (Winnipeg's potential field-goal attempt) was (43) yards with the wind, I should have just kicked it," Burke continued. "I played it too conservative. Like I said, 'Well surely we can (punt) the ball out of bounds inside the 10... since we didn't even get it within the 20 yards of the sideline, you gotta... I'm really pretty pissed about that. The way our defence was playing, I thought we'd hold in there..."
Burke, who consulted with special teams coach Kyle Walters before making the call, added the defence couldn't allow a big pass in the waning moments -- something they did when Brooks Foster caught a 20-yard reception with 15 seconds to play.
Renaud wore his punting mistake afterwards, telling reporters he just didn't get it done.
"I was supposed to pin them deep -- coffin-corner punt, with the wind at your back... it's a challenge but I didn't execute the play," said Renaud, who leads the CFL with 17 punts inside the 20-yard line (six of those inside the 10). "Ultimately, I didn't do what I was supposed to do.
"It's on me. Whatever happened afterwards happened, but I didn't get the job done.
"I knew right away (when I kicked it)," Renaud added. "The wind at your back, it's just gonna carry a lot easier and I didn't have the right line, I didn't have my aim down and it just took off in the back of the end zone on me."
Bombers kicker Justin Palardy, who went 5-for-7 Sunday thanks to a sputtering Winnipeg attack inside the opposition 35-yard line, said the call was a coach's decision. With the wind at his back, he felt 43 yards easily fell into his range.
"It's just a normal day with the wind, balls are coming off nice," Palardy said. "Like I said, coach made the decision to pin them deep. I understood their thought process -- yeah, pin them deep.
"It just didn't happen."
NO TDs, AGAIN: For the second straight game, and the ninth straight quarter, the Bombers offence failed to get the ball into the end zone, a streak that is telling of a 2-8 ballclub. Point to the sequence of events at the game, but if the club cashes in any of their opportunities Sunday, they're on the winning side.
"It's up to the coaches, they make the decisions," receiver Chris Matthews said when asked if he could put his finger on the offensive woes. "They make the decisions, we have to execute, and we have to live (with) them."
The Bombers have scored just 200 total points in 10 games this season -- including a league-worst 16 touchdowns.
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