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This article was published 13/10/2014 (1933 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
EDMONTON — They changed the head coach. They changed the general manager. They changed the CEO.
They even changed the majority of the players.
Yet, for all the sweeping changes made within the Winnipeg Football Club over the past year, it was hard to find much evidence of it on display at Commonwealth Stadium Monday afternoon.
A Blue Bombers team that has embarrassed itself all too often in recent seasons did so all over again — and did it in historic fashion.
Playing in what was virtually a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Bombers inexplicably soiled themselves in a horrendous effort that saw the Edmonton Eskimos run up a 37-0 halftime lead, tying the Bombers' franchise record for largest halftime deficit.
By the time the smoke settled, the Eskimos had a 41-9 victory that simultaneously clinched Edmonton (and Saskatchewan) a playoff spot and put the Bombers' playoff chances on life support with their sixth straight loss.
"It's embarrassing," said Bombers defensive end Jason Vega. "To be out there after having worked as hard as we did all week and put out... that kind of performance? I think it's embarrassing for us and I think everyone can reflect that."
'To be out there after having worked as hard as we did all week and put out... that kind of performance? I think it's embarrassing for us and I think everyone can reflect that'— Bombers defensive end Jason Vega
WHAT'S IT MEAN?
With a record of 6-9 this morning, the Bombers now trail the 8-7 B.C. Lions by four points in the chase for fourth place in the West and the possible crossover playoff spot that will go with it. The bottom line: Winnipeg will be eliminated from playoff contention for the fifth time in six years with any combination of Bombers losses or B.C. wins that add up to two.
"Ø"Ø WHAT ABOUT DREW?
Bombers starting quarterback Drew Willy had a horrendous game, going 4-of-9 for just 23 yards before being lifted near the end of the second quarter after hurting his hand.
Willy also fumbled midway through the second quarter when he was stripped by defensive end Odell Willis. Edmonton linebacker Dexter McCoil picked up the loose ball and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown that gave Edmonton a 21-0 lead and extinguished any designs Winnipeg might have had about competing on this day.
How bad was the Bombers offence? Well, they had minus-one yards of total offence in the first quarter and had just three yards total offence with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
'With Drew Willy, you're always optimistic. When has he not played?'— Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea, on the status of quarterback Drew Willy, who left the game with an injured hand
They didn't muster a first down until midway through the second quarter and had just two first downs in the entire first half — compared to 20 for the Eskimos.
Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea said he was optimistic Willy's hand injury wouldn't keep him out long, if at all. "With Drew Willy, you're always optimistic. When has he not played?"
Willy was replaced by backup Brian Brohm, who actually wasn't bad playing in nearly impossible circumstances, finishing the game 18-of-33 for 219 yards and one interception.
"Ø"Ø HARSH WORDS?
CJOB reported Monday night O'Shea and Eskimos head coach Chris Jones "had some words" after the game.
The Eskimos raised some eyebrows when quarterback Mike Reilly threw into the end zone near the end of the first half with the Eskimos leading 30-0.
The play led to a Bombers pass interference call — one of two pass interference calls in the end zone against Winnipeg — and a one-yard TD run by Reilly one play later, which came with just four seconds to play in the half.
The Bombers flatly denied the CJOB report, insisting O'Shea tracked down Jones after the game only to offer his congratulations. And when Jones was asked about it by reporters after the game, he denied he was running up the score.
"We're ramping up trying to get into the playoffs, trying to make sure we're clicking. We weren't trying to run up the score and embarrass an opponent, especially Mike O'Shea. He's a good friend of mine," said Jones.
"Ø"Ø SO NOW WHAT?
If Monday seemed like a nightmare for Bombers fans, it might get even worse.
The Bombers next play Saturday at Investors Group Field against a little outfit known as the Calgary Stampeders, who at 12-2 have been the absolute class of the CFL this season.
Making matters worse, the Stamps will head into the game fresh off a bye week, while the Bombers are going to have very little time to regroup in what will be a very short practice week.
The challenge? "We've got to really, really, really dial in," said Bombers defensive back Matt Bucknor. "On a positive note, we still have a chance to make the playoffs. That's how we can look at this... This next game is a big one and we need to have all hands on deck."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @PaulWiecek
Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.