Seeking their second win of the season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers turned to third-string quarterback Joey Elliott. It's too bad they didn't do it sooner.
The Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 32-25, as Elliott threw for 403 yards and one touchdown at a fired up Canad Inns Stadium on Thursday, August 16. Obviously, Elliott made the grade in his first big test of the season, but what about the rest of the team? Here's the Bombers' winning report card for week eight.
Offence -- As mentioned above, Elliott tossed for 403 yards and one major, a 12-yard strike to Chris Matthews in the fourth quarter, but his zero interceptions also were key to victory. The Bombers didn't run the ball exceptionally well against the Ti-Cats' last-ranked run defence, but Chad Simpson (team-high 79 yards rushing) and Will Ford each had rushing touchdowns in the second half. Ford's four-yard dash to the end zone with 1:25 left in the game was the difference. Four Bombers receivers each had at least 73 yards receiving, including Matthew who finished with a team-high 121. Final Grade: B+
Defence --"Hustle" was the key word for the Bombers, who gave up some big plays, but forced four fumbles by Hamilton QB Henry Burris (364 yards, two TDs). The Bombers recovered three of them, including one in the first quarter in their own end zone. Henoc Muamba and Alex Hall each forced two fumbles, as the defence showed good ball pursuit. However, it's alarming how many big plays the defence has yielded this season. Burris connected with Chris Williams for an 84-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the game to tie the score at 25 with the two point convert. Final Grade: B
Special Teams --Special teams were brutal in the first half. Mike Renaud nearly had a punt blocked and Williams returned another 72 yards for a touchdown. In all, the Tabbies racked up 271 yards of return yardage. However, Justin Palardy booted three field goals and the punt coverage team forced a couple of turnovers to even things out. This unit must be more consistent. Final Grade: C+
Coaching -- Once again, the Bombers came out flat, as the Tiger-Cats took a 7-1 lead after the first quarter. Winnipeg has been outscored 54-8 in the first quarter this season. Some of that falls on the coaching staff. Furthermore, the play-calling left a lot to be desired in the first half -- again, Simpson should be getting more touches -- but adjustments were made in the second half. The Bombers' game-winning drive (eight plays, 92 yards) was a thing of beauty. Let's see more of that! Final Grade: C
Next Marking Period --The Bombers conclude their four-game homestand on Friday, August 24 against the British Columbia Lions. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST. It'll be the second meeting between the two clubs since BC defeated Winnipeg in last year's Grey Cup. The Lions mauled the Bombers, 33-16, in week one of the regular season.
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.Sources
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