The Winnipeg Blue Bombers turned in their best all-around effort of the season on Saturday, August 24 against the defending Grey Cup champion British Columbia Lions. Unfortunately, it didn't result in victory, as the Lions stunned the Bombers, 20-17, on a last-play field goal. On the bright side, Winnipeg showed improvement on both sides of the ball, as you'll see in the team's latest report card.
Offence -- The Bombers moved the ball fairly well against the Lions' top-ranked defence. They rolled up 337 yards of net offence, as Joey Elliott threw for 256 yards on 20-for-41 passing. Plus, Alex Brink's one-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter ended the BC's streak of 15 quarters without allowing a major. Unfortunately, the Bombers (2-6) failed to get the ball in the end zone in the forth quarter. They settled for three short field goals. Additionally, the running game netted only 81 yards. Final Grade: C+
Defence -- With all its starters in place, the defence played its best game of the season. It limited the dynamic Travis Lulay to 220 yards passing and picked him off on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. However, for all the good, the Bombers again suffered costly defensive lapses in the fourth quarter. The Lions (6-2) drove 75 yards on six plays to tie the score at 17-17 with 1:52 left in the game and Paul McCallum kicked the game-winning field goal at the gun from 41 yards out. Final Grade: B+
Special Teams -- The kickers turned in another solid performance. Mike Renaud pinned the Lions deep on his first punt and Justin Palardy booted three field goals in the fourth quarter. But in this defensive battle, the Bombers really could have used a big return from Demond Washington. He averaged just 21.7 yards on three returns. Credit the Lions' coverage. Final Grade: B
Coaching --The Bombers showed creativity on offense. The 13-yard, end-around run by Clarence Denmark in the fourth quarter was an awesome call. Also, Elliott took some shots down the field. Winnipeg needs to do more of that moving forward. Furthermore, the team was prepared to play from the opening kick-off -- it was the first time all season. On the downside, the Bombers still look undisciplined at times (nine penalties). Some of that falls on the coaching. Final Grade: B
Next Marking Period -- The Blue Bombers travel to Saskatchewan to play the Roughriders in the Labour Day Classic on Sunday, September 2. Winnipeg was hammered by the Riders in last year's Labour Day clash, 27-7, and lost the Banjo Bowl rematch at home, 45-23.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter and supporter of all Winnipeg sports teams. The coldest sporting event he ever attended was the 2011 East Division final between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Canad Inns Stadium. Adam follows back Bombers fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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