Ottawa Redblacks stumble in loss to Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Did the Ottawa Redblacks think they were still on a bye week or were the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that good Friday night at TD Place?
A 29-14 loss at home to Winnipeg? Offensively, and, at times, defensively, it was a mess for the Redblacks.
Talk about deflating – with the Redblacks trying to bounce back in the fourth quarter of a game where they were way too sloppy, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got a huge play from their kicker.
And this time it wasn’t Justin Medlock’s toe that made the difference. Medlock lofted a punt that bounced near the Ottawa goal line and as Ryan Lankford waited for it to hop into the end zone, the Winnipeg player raced downfield and lunged forward, knocking the ball out of bounds and giving the Bombers possession of the ball on the four-yard line with 9:45 left. Two plays later, quarterback Chris Streveler, in for injured Matt Nichols, pushed into the end zone and Winnipeg had a 29-14 lead.
“It’s my mistake,” said Lankford. “I have to know the situation better. I take 100% ownership of that.”
The Ottawa struggles continued on its next drive when Winston Rose recovered a Caleb Holley fumble on the Bombers 22-yard line. Then, Chandler Fenner got an interception with 1:24 left.
Both teams went into the game 2-0.
“You want to win every single game, no matter if the team is 2-0 or 0-2,” said Lankford. “It’s professional football, we’re all competitors and we want to win. It’s early in the season and we have a lot of opportunities to get better and get more wins under our belt. But I’ll guarantee you everyone in that locker room is salty. We know we could have put a better showing in and could have won this game.”
“I’ll give Winnipeg credit, they played better than us,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “But we helped them out. We made mistakes too often and it was too difficult to overcome.”
Redblacks Dominique Davis completed 21-of-36 passes for 234 yards, while running back Mossis Madu was held to six carries for 18 yards. Winnipeg had a whopping edge in Time of Possession, 39:01-20:59.
The Bombers got a touchdown on their first offensive drive, with Nic Demski breaking open through broken coverage on a post pattern in the middle of the field and going 82 yards for a touchdown a bit more than three minutes into the game. The convert made it 7-0.
Set up by a fake punt and direct snap to J-C Beaulieu (who ran for four yards on third-and-two), the Redblacks had a big play taken away (a 39-yard completion to Holley down deep into Winnipeg territory) when Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea successfully challenged that defensive back Winston Rose had been pushed away with the ball in the air. The Redblacks settled for a booming 58-yard single by punter Richie Leone.
Medlock hit the upright with a field goal attempt, with the ball bouncing back out. Then, Medlock was wide with a 43-yard field goal attempt with the Bombers getting a single.
Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward drilled a 53-yarder through the uprights – his record-setting 58th straight field goal (he would add another later) – three minutes into the second quarter.
A roughing-the-passer penalty to George Uko extended a Winnipeg drive – the Bombers capitalized when Streveler found Drew Wolitarsky at the goal line for a touchdown. The convert made it 15-4.
The Bombers opened the second half with a long drive (helped by a roughing-the-passer call on Michael Wakefield and a pass interference penalty to Jonathan Rose. A third-and-one gamble from the Ottawa six paid off when Streveler bounced off defenders and pushed for five yards. On the next play, he spun into the end zone and Winnipeg led 22-4.
With 4:41 left in the third quarter, Anthony Cioffi intercepted Streveler after the ball was tipped by Avery Ellis. The Redblacks’ drive stalled and Ward booted a 42-yard field goal.
Ottawa closed the gap to 22-14 when Sherrod Baltimore drilled Winnipeg receiver Charles Nelson, forcing a fumble. Jonathan Rose picked it up and ran 39 yards for a touchdown.
DOG-GONE: Lucky Whitehead has been turning heads on the football field for the Bombers. Two years ago, he was part of a dog-napping when his dog Blitz was taken and a ransom of $10,000 was demanded.
“I kept getting calls saying ‘How much do you love this dog?’ and ‘If you want the dog back, you’ve got to pay $10,000,” Whitehead told Postmedia’s Ted Wyman.
The Bombers receiver was eventually reunited with his pitbull. A rapper named Boogotti Kasino claimed he paid money to someone for the animal and the “ransom demand” was simply him asking to be paid back when he returned Blitz.
“I was able to get him back, unharmed and I didn’t pay no ransom,” Whitehead told Wyman. “The guy that everyone said had him, it was kind of a publicity stunt for him because he wanted to get his music out there.”
Whitehead, a former Dallas Cowboy, says he’s a gamer. “I play Call of Duty for hours and I lose track of time,” he said.
SECOND AND LONG: There was a bit of thunder and lightning before the game, but the sunshine returned, with the game starting just a few minutes late … The Redblacks were lacking momentum late in the second quarter – Avery Ellis and Corey Tindal combined to bring down Matt Nichols for a sack and a 10-yard loss. And what looked like another long Bombers drive at least got Ottawa the ball back at its own 20 with two minutes left. Too good to be true, I guess. Winston Rose had great coverage on Dominique Rhymes and intercepted the ball at the Winnipeg 34.
THE END AROUND: About those dogs running around the field catching frisbees at halftime – wonder if any CFL team has them on a neg list. Some great acrobatic catches. Will they work for biscuits? This was nearly as good as the World’s Fastest Cow at Calgary Stampeders games … Give Matt Nichols a lot of credit for being gutsy, but putting his head down and barrelling into Redblacks defenders midway through the third quarter may not have been the best thing for his health. He left the field and went to the locker room, probably for concussion protocol … Redblacks offensive lineman Jason Lauzon-Seguin left the game in the first half; he was replaced by rookie Alex Fontana, who played left guard, with Evan Johnson switching to right tackle. Campbell later said he thought Lauzon-Seguin would be OK … I’m not sure I can even begin to understand a series of flags later in the game. The fans sure didn’t like it – laying into the officials with a good ole “Ref, you suck.” … There was a bit of a scuffle with 21 seconds left – mostly between Ottawa’s offensive linemen and Winnipeg’s big boys on defence.
ALSO IN SPORTS: