Tait: Blue Bombers can't slip this close to playoffs
This is the time of year when teams should be fine-tuning before a late-season run, not doing the cliché "everybody has to look in the mirror" thing.
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The post-game frustration was predictable and the anger expected. And the disbelief? Well, that was more than a little disconcerting.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had many of the emotions you might expect after any loss, particularly one like last Saturday’s 29-28 setback in Toronto against the Argonauts in which the club let slip away an outside shot at first place in the West Division and delayed the chance to secure a home playoff date.
Matt Nichols and Andrew Harris spoke openly post-game of their frustration with the offence, a unit which has struggled of late, and in the overall sloppiness and attention to detail.
Weston Dressler bemoaned how long his defensive compadres had to stay on the field because of that offensive ineffectiveness.
That defence? It gave up over 550 yards offence in another game in which Tristan Okpalaugo referred to the Bombers getting "punched in the mouth."
Meanwhile, Justin Medlock – "Money Medlock" as he is referred to by his teammates – was in shock that his last-play 39-yard field goal was wide right and in his recent struggles in which his invincibility as the Canadian Football League’s once most-accurate kicker has taken a hit or two.
The point here is this: there was plenty of blame to be spread around Saturday – and in two of the last three games which were losses -- and the culprits are ready and willing to raise their arms.
The potential good news here? The club has not lost consecutive games all season and has shown the kind of resiliency that is the backbone of any championship-calibre squad.
“It comes down to the details and the execution,” Harris said afterward. “I know we’ve got the guys in the locker room to win games. But we didn’t play physical enough and we didn’t execute the details well enough.
“Everyone had their moments, across the board. When you’re playing these kind of games and with a playoff atmosphere, you just can’t let that happen.”
Now, the Bombers vow to fix things ASAP this week leading up to Saturday’s final regular-season home date at Investors Group Field (IGF) against the B.C. Lions. And if they do, either the Edmonton Eskimos or Saskatchewan Roughriders will be back in town Nov. 12 for the West Division Semifinal.
Even with this latest slip, that fact shouldn’t be lost – one win and the Bombers will have taken another important step in the franchise’s rebirth by hosting the first playoff game in the history of IGF and the first since in this town since 2011.
But we are a week from Halloween and this is the time of year when teams should be fine-tuning before a late-season run, not doing the cliché "everybody has to look in the mirror" thing.
The Bombers have a couple of games to get their engine humming again. After that, there is no room for error because, as the old saying goes, ‘when it’s do or die, there is no in between.’
Ed Tait is the Blue Bombers Director of Content. His columns appear weekly in the Metro. Follow him daily at bluebombers.com.