Turnovers cost Blue Bombers

- October 13th, 2012

You might say Saturday’s 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders before 25,00-and-change at Canad Inns Stadium was a microcosm of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2012 CFL season.

As poorly as they took care of the football, somehow the Blue Bombers had the ball in their possession with just over a minute left on the clock, down by eight points and needing a major, plus a two-point conversion to beat the odds and force overtime.

Instead, Alex Brink was sacked from behind and fumbled, with the ball going over to the Stamps for what was the Blue Bombers 8th turnover of the contest.

No that’s not a misprint, the Blue Bombers turned it over a whopping eight times — four interceptions by QB Joey Elliott, fumbles by returner Demond Washington, RB Chad Simpson and Brink and a loss of down near the end of the first half when the Blue Bombers went for it on 3rd down instead of lining up a 52-yard field goal attempt (with the wind).

It’s very rare in football, at any level, where you can afford to turn the ball over eight times and the thing that haunted the Blue Bombers was that three of the four picks came in the Stamps end zone. Even field goals on one or two occasions would have changed the dynamic of this game.

For the sake of comparison, the Stamps turned it over twice – once on a Hail Mary by Bo-Levi Mitchell at the end of the first half that was intercepted by Johnny Sears – and then with just over a minute to go as DE Kenny Mainor stripped Jon Cornish of the football and Jovon Johnson recovered.

The Stamps owned the ball in the opening quarter, taking advantage of two fumbles, to hold possession for nearly 13 and a half minutes as they built a big lead.

First quarter struggles are well-documented, but the Blue Bombers found a way to make a game of it during the second quarter.

But as the Blue Bomber defence picked things up in the second half, the offence failed to deliver, until Brink found Chris Matthews in the end zone late to cut the deficit to 29-21.

Rene Paredes kicked his fourth field goal of the game with 15 seconds to go and the Blue Bombers chose to kneel down to run out the clock.

The loss leaves the Blue Bombers at 4-11, with three weeks left in the regular season.

Coupled with the Edmonton Eskimos impressive 37-20 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Blue Bombers now must win out and get help to even have a chance.

Suddenly the Esks have won two in a row with Kerry Joseph at the controls and are 7-8. Sure, their road ahead is tough but the Blue Bombers have played 15 weeks and haven’t found a way to string consecutive victories together.

With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Blue Bombers find a way to slip into the playoffs.

Here are a few things that stood out about Saturday’s matinee:

* LB Marcellus Bowman was a machine, flying around the field and finishing with 11 tackles. You can’t fault his effort in this one.

* WR Terrence Edwards played through the pain of a sore foot to lead the Blue and Gold. Another strong showing from veteran, who had nine catches for 143 yards.

* WR Chris Matthews is certainly a keeper, finishing with seven catches for 116 yards to help him become the first Blue Bomber rookie to eclipse 1,000 yards (he has 1,090 with three games left to play).

* We recognize Elliott is trying to make things happen, but he made several poor decisions in the red zone that proved costly. We talked about it in Bomber Blitz, but Buck Pierce has to start Friday in Toronto if given medical clearance this week.

* Tough day for Jovon Johnson, who needs to be moved back in the secondary. On one series, the Stamps picked on him in coverage three times, on a long pass to Nik Lewis, another to Romby Bryant and then on the TD to Marquis McDaniel. Jonathan Hefney is a better fit at SAM LB than Johnson, whose strengths simply aren’t being utilized right now.

* That fumble by Demond Washington was a morale killer for the Blue Bombers, whose defence had just forced Calgary to punt on the opening possession before finding themselves right back on the field after Washington let the ball bounce and saw it bounce off his facemask before the Stamps recovered. Interim head coach Tim Burke said after the game that Washington would not be returning punts from now on. He’s shown some explosive flashes but has fumbled eight times and lost five of them. Johnny Sears and Johnson are likely to handle those duties.

* Blue Bombers are back in action on Friday at Rogers Centre and if the Argos can find a way to upset the Montreal Alouettes tomorrow, they’ll hold a share of top spot in the East Division standings.

Categories: Football

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1 comment

  1. Patti Dawn Swansson says:

    The first pass Matt Dunigan ever threw in the Canadian Football League was picked off.

    He’s in the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Bernie Faloney once tossed seven interceptions in a game.

    He’s in the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Ron Lancaster threw 63 more interceptions than touchdowns in his career.

    He’s in the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Doug Flutie tossed the football to the guys on the other team 30 times in one season.

    He’s in the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Sonny Wade threw 30 picks in his rookie season with the Montreal Alouettes.

    He is not in the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Wade, however, has three Grey Cup rings, he’s a three-time Grey Cup most valuable player and he’s featured on a postage stamp saluting the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup game.

    What is all of this leading to? Joey Elliott.

    The Purdue product is, in the words of his interim head coach, Tim Burke, a “perennial turnover machine.”

    This rather stinging indictment came on the heels of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, a setback in which Elliott tossed four interceptions.

    “…If guys are perennial turnover machines then they can’t be put in that position to play,” Burke said post-game.

    Eleven of Elliott’s air offerings have arrived at the wrong address this season. That’s against 156 completions and five TD tosses. If Burke believes this makes him a “turnover machine” and disqualifies him to start for the Bombers, perhaps a history lesson is in order for the interim head coach.

    And there’s no better place to look than Sonny Wade’s body of work.

    By his own admission, Wade was “a little erratic at quarterback sometimes.”

    A little erratic? That’s like saying Lindsay Lohan is a little mixed up. Wade was the original poster boy for turnover machines.

    In 10 seasons with the Alouettes, 169 of his passes were picked as opposed to 89 touchdowns. That’s almost two picks for every TD toss. He once was picked seven times in a game. He twice was picked six times in a game.
    Yet all he did was win.

    The Larks went to the Grey Cup game five times in his 10 seasons, winning thrice. And, as mentioned, he was declared the game MVP in the three favorable title games.

    How could the Als be so successful with such a turnover machine at QB? Coaching (hello, Marv Levy) and talent (Junior Ah You, Johnny Rodgers, Terry Evanshen, Ed George, Gene Gaines, Dickie Harris, Peter Dalla Riva, etc.), two areas that seldom have been viewed as strengths with this edition of the Bombers.

    There’s a myth that tells us you can’t win in the CFL without a stud quarterback. Wrong.

    The Bombers never won a Grey Cup with Dieter Brock behind centre, and he was the stud of all stud Qbs. But they won one with Sean Salisbury. And another with Tom Burgess.

    All of this says it’s not time to give up on Elliott just yet.

    Oh, one final note: In his three injury-plagued seasons with the Bombers, Buck Pierce has tossed 23 TD passes and 25 interceptions.

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