The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their trip to the CFL Eastern final that much harder with a loss Friday night to their division rivals Toronto Argonauts.
A win by the Bombers would have kept them on pace with Montreal to finish first in the East.
It wasn’t the loss so much that became the issue here, but the way the team self-destructed early and consistently throughout the game.
Through 17 games this season it appears the Winnipeg offense has yet to perform at a level capable of winning football games.
Too many times this season the club has relied on their defense to pull them out of slumps; however, it should be expected that by the season's end, these issues should have been cleaned up.
With one game left in the regular season, the Bombers have averaged 10 points in the first half and 14 in the second. Yet through several games, the Bombers are so deep by halftime, the second half is almost moot.
Although it could very well be a costly move, it appears that Paul LaPolice needs to start Alex Brink, with Buck Pierce in a relief role if required.
For Buck Pierce to be successful, he always needs the play-calling from head coach Paul LaPolice to be spot on. With the team heading into the postseason for the first time since 2008 with first place on the line, now is not the time to be conservative with the play-calling.
It is almost required that when a team has third down at the goal line, they should go for it. After solid play from your running back it is imperative that you continue that streak and punch it in for the major score.
Too many times this season Bombers' head coach Paul LaPolice has opted for field goals in that situation, which ends up costing the game down the stretch.
It's true that defense wins championships, but the slow starts that the Bombers have had this season could make that statement a non-factor down the stretch.
When you factor in the incompetence of the referees last night, you have a game that has seen too much.
It is said that the referees will never call a complete game, however you always hope they will do the best possible job. Last night the referees were confused out there and may not have called a high school football game any better.
The blatant shove of an Argonaut player that cost the Bombers an unnecessary roughness penalty was just one of several costly penalties in the game.
The costliest penalty was none other than the one committed by Johnny Sears, who appeared to lead with his helmet into Toronto’s Steven Jyles, and ended up being ejected from the game.
Through all the bad in the game committed by the Bombers, if you dig deep enough you will find some good.
The club set an all-time attendance record for one season with 266,802, beating the previous record of 252,802. That record was set in 2001, also the same season the Bombers were in the Grey Cup.
Running back Chris Garrett was a beast on the turf, rushing for 159 yards on 20 carries. This marks the second 100-yard mark rushing game for the Bombers this season.
Receiver Greg Carr also had a good outing on Friday night, receiving 122 yards with seven receptions and one touchdown. This also marks Carr’s second 100-yard receiving game.
For the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with the postseason coming up and a potential home game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who the Bombers swept this season, there needs to be a change in the coaching style.
How sad for a team that had everything within reach, to let it all slip away with a small batch of bad calls and an inept offense.
Paul LaPolice will need to figure his team out now rather than later if he wants any shot at returning to the Grey Cup this season.
Offensive Player of the Game:
Greg Carr notched his second 100-yard receiving game and second straight game with a touchdown. Greg Carr also fought hard for every yard he earned last night.
Defensive Player of the Game:
Byron Parker made history with his ninth interception for a touchdown Friday night after picking off a wobbly pass by Buck Pierce that was most likely aimed for out of bounds but fell plenty short.
Special Teams Player of the Game:
Kicker Justin Palardy notched all five of his field goal attempts and extra points for a 16-point performance, including a 42-yard field goal.