Bombers spoil Redblacks’ debut
WINNIPEG—Even ugly wins are good, Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ coach Mike O’Shea said after his team overcame struggles to beat the Ottawa Redblacks 36-28 in the expansion team’s CFL debut on the road.
“If you can win ugly, win ugly, it don’t matter, it’s a win,” stressed O’Shea as the Bombers improved to 2-0 to start the season—just one win less than the team managed in all of 2013.
“There’s still lots of work to do . . . but they get that,” O’Shea added.
Outside the other dressing room at Investors Group Field, another rookie head coach had less to be happy about.
“We’re incredibly disappointed to lose,” said Rick Campbell. “That was one that was there for the taking.
“It’s a hard league to win in,” he added.
“You’ve got to make sure you make enough plays to win the game and they made one more than we did.”
Veteran quarterback Henry Burris said they failed at many levels.
“We were way too inconsistent when it counted,” he conceded.
“This is a team loss because in every aspect we could have done better.”
With three first-quarter touchdowns, two from running back Chevon Walker and another from slotback Dobson Collins, Burris and the Redblacks jumped into an early lead.
But after that, the Bombers’ defence pretty well shut them down for most of the game and Winnipeg’s special teams helped to even things up.
Ottawa had two field goals and a single in the last three quarters of football as the Bombers edged closer.
Demond Washington’s 96-yard kick return for a third-quarter touchdown was huge for the Bombers.
Running back Nic Grigsby, meanwhile, had three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter.
“It was awesome getting that feeling back, being able to be the sparkplug for the game and help the team finish with a big win,” said Grigsby, who has been out of football for a while after a stint at the B.C. Lions’ camp in 2012.
An injury to Will Ford saw him get the starter’s spot although his performance in camp also made it a tough decision.
Lirim Hajrullahu had three field goals for the Bombers.
Quarterback Drew Willy smacked his throwing hand, perhaps on a helmet, but said he will be ready to play in Montreal and at no point did he think of leaving the game.
“The third quarter it definitely bothered me, but the guys did a good job telling me to keep fighting through it, fighting through the pain,” he noted.
“Obviously our crowd was behind us and that’s tough on any away quarterback.”
The game marked the return of Ottawa to the league it left in 2006 due to money troubles.
That, plus Winnipeg’s win in its season-opener, put a few more fans in the seats with a count of 27,553.
And they were deafening when the Redblacks had the ball.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon was on hand for the historic occasion.
“I think we have a great franchise in the Ottawa Redblacks,” said Cohon, who started working to bring Ottawa back into the league shortly after he became commissioner in 2007.
“When we did that deal, to where they are today, it’s a much stronger league and they’re very happy to be part of something that is growing,” he added.
“And I think they’re one of the big reasons why there’s a lot of excitement this year around the league.”