This past Friday I decided to head down to Canad Inns Stadium to check out the Bombers vs Alouettes game. The game was the first CFL game I’ve been to since my final game as a player.
I’m a huge NFL fan, always have been and always will be, but Friday’s game was crazy, intense, and exactly what the CFL is all about. Even though the Bombers eventually lost, there’s nothing like a good old 44-40 football game to make you fall in love with the CFL all over again. It was a classic show case of why the CFL is such a great league!
Losses are tough. Everybody knows this was a game the Bombers should have won and that makes it even tougher. Why they lost? Well, my opinion as to why the Bombers loss differs significantly from the opinions of the other 26,000+ Winnipeggers that were there. The day after, actually the weekend and two weekdays after, the print, radio, and TV sports media decided the loss was not the fault of anyone playing or coaching for the Bombers. Instead, it was the referees who deserved credit for the Bombers loss. Even the players and coaches pointed their fingers at the refs.
Like bad teams typically do, every reason the Bombers had for why they lost the game had nothing to do with them. Instead, they found a scapegoat. According to the Bombers and the Winnipeg media, the turning point was the play where Montreal wide receiver Jamal Richardson caught the ball and then fumbled it. The play was ruled as an incomplete pass, it was then reviewed by the officials only to be ruled as an incomplete pass one more time. Somehow this play, the play that didn’t even put points on the board, was why the Bombers lost.
What I find even more fascinating is that no one is putting the Bombers coaching staff under scrutiny for their play calling. Jaime Barresi, the Bombers offensive coordinator (and the coach that recruited me to the University of Central Florida in 2004), is known for running a high-risk/high reward offense that loves to pass the ball. I don’t mind takings risks in football games but there’s a time and place.
With a handful of minutes remaining in the game, the Bombers were leading by 6 and marching down the field on what was probably their best drive of the fourth quarter. With the Bomber just inside Montreal territory, Barresi called a play that would leave the door open for an Alouette’s comeback rather than taking the points which would have virtually given the Bomber the win.
The Bombers put wide receiver Terrance Edwards in the back field, threw a swing pass to him, then he threw the ball down to the Alouette’s two yard line where a Bomber receiver was heavily covered. The pass was intercepted and Winnipeg’s drive came to a halt.
The Bombers should have played it safe and gained the last handful of yards to put themselves in field goal range. Kick the field goal, go up by 9, and the game is essentially over. Even a missed field goal gives them a single which increases their lead to 7 which you would expect would at least be enough to get to OT.
My point is that bad calls by referees don’t lose football games. Yes, there were two bad calls against the Bombers: the pass interference and, arguably, the “fumble” (which was too close to call). The Bombers were also on the receiving end of some bad calls. With the bombers leading 33-31, Bombers defensive lineman Odell Willis beat Montreal offensive tackle Jeff Parrett clean off the edge and sacked Calvillo, causing him to fumble the ball. During the ensuing scramble for the ball, the Bombers kicked the ball into the end zone then recovered it for a touchdown. This is another controversial play for many reasons. Willis was clearly offside but there was no flag. The kick should have been considered a punt by the Bombers, and assuming such, Joe Lobendahn should not have been eligible to recover the ball for the Bombers. This ended up being the score that already put the Allouettes in quite a hole.
Everybody gets bad calls. For the Bombers, it is simply a case of a team that doesn’t hold itself accountable. When a team does that, it’s easy to lose games. The refs never lost the game for the Bombers. The refs didn’t once drop a ball, lose their receiver, miss a tackle or force a bad pass. The Bombers lost because they couldn’t execute in the fourth quarter on either side of the ball. So please Winnipeg, stop blaming everyone except the Blue and Gold and realize what the real reason was.
I’m Ryan Karhut and that is my Angle.