TO get this natural fan worry out of the way: Buck Pierce, after getting battered from all sides by the Montreal Alouettes' defensive line, is OK.
'We didn't have an answer for their blitzing'
Still, the next five-sack game might not end the same, and so on Friday morning Bombers head coach Tim Burke dryly voiced displeasure at his squad's quarterback protection. The Alouettes rained down 22 full blitzes against the Bombers on Thursday night, ramming what Burke called "the whole kit and kaboodle" of their defence against the pocket.
"I don't like it at all," Burke said after landing at Winnipeg's James Richardson International Airport, suggesting the Bombers will either need to beef up protection or build in some more lightning-strike passes. "We didn't have an answer for their blitzing. We're going to have to come up with an answer for that, or we'll see the blitzing every week. When they didn't blitz us and we were running our plays, I thought we did pretty well."
After all, the Bombers did win, eking out a 19-11 victory after defence stuffed and slammed a frustrated Alouettes team, rattling the normally cucumber-cool Anthony Calvillo with seven sacks and stealing the game for the sometimes chaotic Bombers offence. There were busted plays, and there were too many errant balls: Pierce threw an interception and the Bombers fumbled their way to four turnovers.
The scariest cough-up, Burke said, was a late-game Jovon Johnson kickoff-return bobble that the Alouettes almost snapped up immediately after they had scored a touchdown. Luckily, the Bombers recovered.
When asked about the turnovers, Burke fired a warning shot at his squad's stone hands. "All we can do is keep emphasizing it," he said. "Sooner or later, we'll have to put different people in different positions. We certainly can't almost turn the ball over late in the game like that."
He also noted the Bombers will be handing out a handful of internal fines for some undisciplined penalties -- how many, he said, will be determined after he reviews the game film. But he didn't have much to say to Kenny Mainor after the defensive end took an ugly 15-yard roughing penalty on Calvillo -- at least, nothing that could go in print. "I was cussing a lot," Burke quipped.
The Bombers landed in Winnipeg down a man after a scary moment late in Thursday's game. After sacking Calvillo in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Bryant Turner was laid out on the field and having trouble breathing. He was taken to hospital in Montreal, where he remained on Friday morning for observation. The good news: An initial battery of tests didn't find anything serious, Burke said, and they expect Turner will be back soon.
Before going down, Turner forced a fumble and registered two tackles and a glorious three sacks. "He had a heck of a football game, and he's a tremendous person," Bombers defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan said at the airport. "We're confident he'll come back strong."
The Bombers brass also buzzed over the pro debut of defensive tackle Zach Anderson, who jumped up off the practice roster to fill in for wounded JT Gilmore. He battled for three tackles and two sacks. "They did a great job in the front end," Creehan said. "Our front four really got after them. (Anderson) really played hard -- he gives us a good physical presence."