Winnipeg – When head coach Mike O’Shea says “Thanks to a couple of big defensive stops, we avoided total embarrassment,” that’s all you really need to know about how he felt following the Winnipeg Blue Bombers season opening 22-14 loss to Montreal. O’Shea does not use the word “embarrass” lightly in discussing any of his teams games, but he was clearly disappointed in the clubs performance in front of 26,400 fans in Investors Group Field. The Alouettes dominated the game for the first three quarters, enjoying a 12-0 lead at half-time that would have been much greater but for those big defensive stops O’Shea referenced. One of them was an interception by Chris Randle in the end zone and the other a fumble recovery when the Als were once again inside the Winnipeg 10-yard line.
To punctuate the Bombers shortcomings, they couldn’t come up with a desparately needed defensive stop after they cut the Montreal lead to 8 points with 2 and a half minutes left.
A fourth quarter surge did give the Bombers something to build on. The offence came to life in the final 15 minutes and quarterback Drew Willy, who struggled early, finished the night with more than 300 passing yards. And running back Andrew Harris rolled up 80 yards rushing and another 40 receiving for a solid Blue Bomber debut.
Still, all in all, a most disappointing beginning for a team that is expected to be significantly improved over last years 5-13 performance. Next up a visit to Calgary Friday night.