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If a hard loss on Tuesday for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was in part, the product of playing two games in five days, no one in the visitor’s locker room accepted that excuse for the 38-21 result.
The post-game sentiment at Rogers Centre in Toronto was that a penalty-filled first half, where the Argonauts made too many mistakes to count, wasn’t used effectively to get the key victory on the road.
The fourth quarter was one to forget, though it will be seen over and over by the men heading back to Winnipeg as they try to piece it all back together on film.
“They beat us soundly,” coach Mike O’Shea said. “Easy to see that. They certainly got us tonight. We’re disappointed.”
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The Argos were flagged 17 times (122 yards) and the Bombers didn’t fare much better, losing 114 yards on 14 flags for the first road loss of the year.
But as Argos veteran Ricky Ray found four different receivers for four touchdowns and threw to a total of 10 different men, the Winnipeg offence was visibly stifled.
Whether rushing or passing, the Bombers couldn’t find a way through the Toronto defence the same way they did in the first meeting of the two teams on opening night.
Though the Winnipeg production in the running game nearly doubled from Thursday’s tally against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, by any standard it hardly existed.
“It was better,” Winnipeg’s Nic Grigsby said. “We wanted to emphasize the run a bit more but with situations that we had in the game, it took us right out of it. We have to be better at taking advantage of our opportunities on the field.”
The starting running back led the Bombers with 66 yards on seven tries. Six days ago at Investors Group Field, he netted seven yards on 10 carries. The Bombers managed 37 rushing yards in that loss to the Roughriders, who responded with 186.
Grigsby made an eight-yard run in the third quarter for his league-leading sixth touchdown, knotting the two sides in a 21-21 tie. It’s hardly something to note, he said.
“I’m not even worried. I’m more worried about putting points up on the board for my team,” the first-year Blue Bomber said. “As far as any statistical thing to even thing about, the only thing I’m thinking about is winning. We got the loss today and it hurts.”
When the Bombers walked off the field at home on opening night with a 45-21 walloping of the Argos, Winnipeg generated 132 rushing yards, and Drew Willy passed for 308 yards with four touchdowns.
“We were productive in the red zone, but the yards weren’t there like they were last week,” Willy said. “We’ve got to make sure I’m getting the right reads and being smart with the ball.”
Willy threw for 193 yards on 23-of-31 passes with two touchdowns. A third to Romby Bryant, a 76-yard pass that may have been the decisive moment for the visitors, was stripped by a penalty. At that point, the Bombers looked wholly exhausted. Willy was sacked three times in the final 15 minutes of the contest.
“Every time you play a team like Ricky Ray’s, you’re going to need to put up a lot of points,” Willy said.
Injuries aside, things are coming together more cohesively for the Argos after the bye week and Tuesday’s contest could be the start of significantly better execution from Scott Milanovich’s boatmen.
“Nothing was different about Toronto,” Grigsby said. “Our team looked a little bit different. Toronto wanted it more today. We were a little flat, not capitalizing on turnovers, taking advantage of big opportunities and game-changing opportunities like they did. Hats off to them.”