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One freak pass play and Blue's defensive effort down drain

Blue Bomber Henoc Muamba tackles Edmonton Eskimos' Adarius Bowman.


Blue Bomber Henoc Muamba tackles Edmonton Eskimos' Adarius Bowman. Purchase Photo Print

When the sudden bleed-out was over, Jovon Johnson stood in the Bombers' locker-room with a trembling lip and, rare for him, not much to say.

"I don't know what y'all want me to say," the Bombers defensive jack-of-all-trades said, and blew a raspberry as cameras zoomed in on his face. "I'm disgusted. It hurt man, it hurt. Simple as that."

That frustration was echoed by defensive players across the Bombers room, as they struggled to wrap their minds around how an increasingly certain win became an overtime loss. The offence was partly to blame, of course, as a solid first-half outing by Max Hall and the receiver crew began to cool off over the remaining time. Or maybe if Sandro DeAngelis had made that 35-yard kick, the one that harmlessly flew wide of the posts. That too.

Still, one key turning point came down to this: there was just one minute left in the fourth quarter. The Eskimos, desperate to close a three-point gap, went for the throw at third-and-10, and Reilly sent the ball hurling down the field.

Bombers defensive back Demond Washington, 25, and so fiery at times in this his second CFL year, lept up and tried to grab it for the interception, but the ball bounced off his fingertips and landed squarely in Esks' slotback Fred Stamps' hands.

It was a funny play to watch, a weird one, and the crowd groaned as it unfurled. But that 51-yard completed pass set the Esks up to tie the game with less than a minute left to play. And it didn't have to be that way.

"A veteran guy would have knocked the ball down," coach Tim Burke said of that play, after the game. "And we would have won... so that's what happens when you have a young team. Sometimes, they make young-guy mistakes."

And that's a shame, but now it's done, and defensive tackle Bryant Turner said that -- yet again -- the Bombers will have to turn the page, and move on.

"They really broke us down at the end," he said. "We just gotta come back to practice, get the little things correct and go back at it again. It was really difficult because we were really confident about this game... we just couldn't execute."

Then, he echoed a familiar refrain, one that first rang from Johnson's place across the locker-room:

"It hurt us. It hurt."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2013 C2

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