WINNIPEG – After squeaking out a pair of victories over the Roughriders, there were questions about the relative lack of potency of the Blue Bombers offence.
Of course, the defence has been outstanding, so who needs offence, right?
Well, on a day where the D was not at their best, the offence sprung to life in a thrilling 46-29 comeback win over the Toronto Argonauts, the seventh win in a row for the Blue and Gold.
The Bombers spotted the visitors a 29-19 lead early in the second half as they had no answer for Dan LeFevour, who was apparently unfazed by the trade for former Winnipeg pivot Drew Willy.
But from that point on the Blue Bombers attack took over, and the Argos offence turned back into the pumpkin indicative of a 5-7 team in the sub-par East division.
The start of the game was a familiar one for Bombers fans: three punts and three field goals had Winnipeg up 9-7, but unsatisfied with the inability to get into the endzone.
The Argos hit on a big play strike to take the lead, a 49-yard pass for LeFevour’s second TD pass of the first half. That was answered by a thunderous 98-yard kickoff return TD by Quincy McDuffie.
But the D once again couldn’t keep Toronto out of the endzone, surrendering another TD through the air late in the second, giving the Argos a 22-19 halftime lead. It was extended to 29-19 thanks to a long second-half opening drive, but that was the last time Toronto would score in the game.
Following a fifth Medlock field goal, Chris Randle picked off LeFevour to set up Winnipeg’s first offensive score of the game, a 15-yard pass from Matt Nichols to Clarence Denmark, and on the next drive Tim Flanders, filling in for the injured Andrew Harris, scored on a two-yard plunge to go up 36-29.
Toronto tried to answer, putting together a nice drive that resulted in another familiar sight for Bombers fans: Lirim Hajrullahu missing a makeable 38-yard field goal, stunting all the momentum his team had gathered. The ensuing drive would result in a Nichols TD sneak, sealing the team’s 7th straight win.
“I think we’ve learned to win a bunch of different styles of games. We gave up that long drive to start the second half and that was it,” explains head coach Mike O’Shea. “All three phases did quite a bit to ensure this win. In the first half they were pushing us around a bit, and in the second half we said, ‘We’ve had enough.'”
To the coach’s point, LeFevour had a sparkling first half and finished 22/34 for 271 yards, 4 TD and 2 INT, but in the second half was just 8/16 for 60 yards for a TD and the two picks.
Matt Nichols was once again solid if unspectacular, going 24/33 for 232 yards and a passing TD to go along with a rushing score. Most importantly, the only turnover the Bombers had was a turnover on downs with under a minute left.
Perhaps the most unexpected contributor was Timothy Flanders, who ran for 102 yards after spending most of the season on the sideline.
“As long as we win, I don’t even care what the numbers are. I’m blessed,” Flanders said after the game. “The coaches believed in me, they told me to go out there and do what I do best.”
Coach O’Shea has insisted throughout the winning streak that it never enters his mind, that he’s only worried about the game at hand. The message appears to be catching on.
“We’re playing one week at a time and can’t look ahead,” echoed Maurice Leggett. “I keep preaching that to the guys. You can’t win the next one until you beat this one.”
The next one now for the Bombers is undoubtedly their toughest test of the year: a date with the league-leading Stampeders in Calgary September 24.