Winnipeg – Some losses sting more than others. This one cut right to the bone for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. You could see the hurt on the faces of the players and coaches as they shuffled through the Calgary airport for the flight home. They were a shaken bunch, emotionally spent after fighting back from a 24-0 deficit to take the lead with 20 seconds left, only to have the Calgary Stampeders complete 2 passes and then kick a game winning 53 yard field goal for a 36-34 win.
Bomber quarterback Matt Nichols said it reminded him of last years loss to Edmonton when Sean Whyte kicked a 53-yard field goal on the final play to give the Eskimos a win at Investors Group Field. But Nichols says this one was worse. He called it the most heart-breaking loss of his career.
Head coach Mike O’Shea said the Bombers lost the game because of a poor first half that saw them play poorly and fall behind by 24 points. Fair comment. But O’Shea also said he was enormously proud of his team for their character and determination in fighting back to take the lead in the dieing seconds. And I think that’s the takeaway that most Bomber fans will have. Going into the game there was a prevailing sentiment that, even though the Bombers had won 7 in a row, there was doubt they could run with the CFL’s big dogs or more specifically, could they stay with the powerhouse Stampeders.
Well, they more than stayed with Calgary. The Bombers came off the canvas and had the Stamps on the ropes only to see what looked like a defining come-from-behind win slip through their fingers.
The challenge now for the bombers if to shake off the disappointment and take out their frustration on the Edmonton Eskimos who visit Winnipeg Friday night. Based on the grit and determination they showed in Calgary, I would not bet against them.