Winnipeg – That sound you hear coming out of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers inner sanctum is a collective sigh of relief. To start the CFL season 0-3 would have not been disastrous—but it would have been close. And so Thursday nights 28-24 win in Hamilton was just what the doctor ordered for a team that had looked ragged and disjointed in losing its first two games.
The Bomber defence came to play vs the Ticats. Led by Moe Leggett, who had 5 tackles, a sack and 2 interceptions, one for a touchdown, the Bombers had consistent pressure on Hamilton quarterback jeremiah Masoli and they forced 6 turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg offence put on an impressive display of ball control, rolling up 26 first downs, and holding onto the ball for close to 34 minutes of the 60-minute game. The offence could have put the game away late in the fourth quarter when Drew Willy marched them from their own 13 yard line all the way to the Hamilton 8, only to have the drive end with a Willy fumble. But the Bomber defence did the rest, holding the Ticats out and forcing a Masoli fumble with the Ticats on the Winnipeg 22-yard line and threatening to score a game winning touchdown in the dieing seconds. Adrian Hubbard made the big play, hitting Masoli and recovering the ball.
Justin Medlock kicked four field goals for the Bombers but he also missed a pair of 51-yarders, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Brandon Banks. That came early in the game, but the Bombers shook it off and controlled play for the rest of the first half, building up a 22-10 lead. Ticats rallied in the third, but the Bombers did just enough on offence and defence to pull out the win.
What a difference one win can make in an 18-game season. Instead of limping home 0-3, the Bombers head back to Winnipeg with a 1-2 record, and their next two games at home against Edmonton next Thursday and Calgary the following Thursday.