Dominant Bombers throw it back to 1960

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The offence wasn’t very good and their placekicking game still resembles a high-school team’s, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are sitting prettier through nine games than they have in 60 years.


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An uneven yet defensively stifling 30-3 win over the dysfunctional Edmonton Elks on Friday pushed the Bombers to 8-1, their best CFL start since they went 9-0 in 1960.

That’s when Duff Roblin was the premier, Gordie Howe became the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and Bud Grant was in the middle of forming a Winnipeg gridiron dynasty.

Yup, a long time ago.

As impressive as it is, the Bombers won’t be beating their chests over this one, at least in two phases of the game.

The offence had the ball all night but squandered all kinds of chances, while Winnipeg’s third field-goal kicker of the season continues to be no better than the first two.

Missing suspended receiver Kenny Lawler more than they said they would, the Bombers relied on their old friend, the ground game, to deliver the result they’re used to getting, Andrew Harris pounding out his first 100-yard game of the season.


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Where there’s no such thing as a bad win, some are more convincing than others.

Taken together, eight in nine games should convince most everybody the road to the 2021 Grey Cup will go through Winnipeg.

Rarity at the goal line

Here’s something we hadn’t seen in a long time.

With glorious field position after an Elks’ first-possession two-and-out, Zach Collaros and Harris quickly got the Bombers down to the one-yard line, with two chances to get in.

They brought in Mr. Automatic, quarterback Sean McGuire, the man who scores on quarterback sneaks in his sleep.

McGuire didn’t get in on second down and he didn’t get in on third down, and that had to be a first this season, the Bombers turning it over on downs after a third-and-one.


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Imagine there were some expletives spitting from the lips of the O-line on the bench after that.

Orange glow

Can’t imagine the logistical challenge it was getting the airplanes and buses together to fly in nearly 1,000 people, mostly kids, from First Nations and northern communities, put them up in hotels and get them to the game.

A local company called Exchange Income Corporation, which operates air services to the north, has been doing this on a smaller basis for four years.

This time they went big, and we can only imagine the smiles on the faces of kids experiencing a flight, hotel stay and live football game for the first time.

Visible in their orange hoodies in the south end zone, they were rewarded when Winnipegger Nic Demski scored the game’s first touchdown right in front of them, a perfect, 16-yard pass from Collaros.


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Demski tossed the ball into the stands, while Harris threw another in there to end the scoring, and wouldn’t those be nice souvenirs to take home?

The whole undertaking was an extension of Orange Shirt Day, one more small step toward a little more understanding between this country’s Indigenous people and the rest of us.

Good on the people who put that together.

Another pounding

It was striking last week to hear B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly say how punishing the Bomber defence was in that 30-9 win.

Imagine members of the Elks offence are saying the same thing.

Exhibit A: Linebacker Adam Bighill’s thundering hit on normally sure-handed receiver Greg Ellingson, knocking the ball out and killing an early Edmonton drive before it got started.


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Exhibit B: Safety Brandon Alexander stepping up to lay the lumber to running back James Wilder, Jr.

Wilder bounced off to gain a few more yards, but those collisions add up by the fourth quarter.

That was the Winnipeg game plan going in.

Exhibit C: Alexander on Ellingson, jarring the ball loose and forcing an Edmonton punt just before the half.

That hit led should have led to a Winnipeg field goal, but Ali Mourtada missed the 42-yarder, adding to the ongoing consternation over the kicking game.

He later missed from 47 and 46, and heard it from the crowd of 27,000-plus.

Eventually, kicking is going to cost this team a win.

He’s the boss

It was 11-zip early in the second quarter, with the Bombers again closing in on the Edmonton end zone, when I turned to colleague Ted Wyman and said this game could get out of hand quickly.


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He reminded me how Winnipeg turnovers kept the Elks in the game the last time they met.

Next play, safety Jordan Hoover picked off Collaros in the end zone and took it 70 yards the other way.

That’s why Ted’s the sports editor.


Just when you think the Winnipeg special teams are never going to make a big play, Jesse Briggs blocks a punt and puts his team in business in Edmonton territory early in the second half.

The offence couldn’t do much with it, though, and the Bombers settled for three, another missed opportunity.

The offence looked very average without Lawler, serving a one-game suspension after an impaired driving incident.

Collaros was under more pressure than usual — the loss of lineman Jermarcus Hardrick didn’t help — and aside from Demski, nobody could get open against a tough Elks defence.

It’s puzzling that Darvin Adams wasn’t called on to fill Lawler’s substantial cleats.

Adams hasn’t been a big factor so far this season, and you would have thought this was the game he would be.


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