Bombers Shocked at Home
WINNIPEG, MB – Just when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a chance to lock up a playoff berth at home, along came the lowly Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
On Friday night at Investors Group Field, Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli came to town, completed 27-of-33 pass attempts for 338 yards and two touchdowns as he led the Tiger-Cats to a shocking 30-13 rout of the Bombers.
Worse yet, there are now concerns about the health of quarterback Matt Nichols.
With the win, Hamilton improved to 4-10-0 and kept their very slim playoff hopes alive while the Bombers fell to 10-4-0 and will have to wait until next week to lock up a spot in the post-season. The Bombers also had their five-game home winning streak stopped.
For Winnipeg, the highlight of a surprisingly ugly evening for the Bombers came early in the second quarter. On second-and-one wide receiver Darvin Adams took a direct snap and fired a perfect pass to Andrew Harris who was wide open down the field. Harris gained 44 yards and that set up a short TD run by Timothy Flanders. That cut the Hamilton lead to 13-7, but for the Bombers, that was it.
Hamilton led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, 16-10 at the half and 22-13 at the end of the third. The Ti-Cats outscored Winnipeg 8-0 in the final quarter.
However, while the loss was difficult to stomach – especially against a team that came to town with a record of 3-10-0 – what made matters worse was the loss of Nichols to an apparent hand injury.
“Matt is in seeing doctors right now,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea after the disappointing setback. “We’ll get him checked out again tomorrow, see how things go when we wake up.”
Nichols was pressured often in the first half and was seen gingerly protecting his hand as the second quarter came to an end. He was replaced by backup Dominique Davis at the start of the third quarter and did return after going 14-for-18 (77.8 per cent) for 158 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Davis went nine-for-14 for 84 yards as the Bombers scored only three points in the final 30 minutes.
“To see a guy like that go down, it’s tough on everybody,” said Harris. “If he’s lost for any length of time, it’s going to be a blow. He’s our leader.”
For Hamilton, Masoli might have played the best game of his career. His favorite target was Brandon Banks, who caught six passes for 104 yards and a 6-yard touchdown on Hamilton’s first possession.
It was also a big night for the Ti-Cats defense. The Hamilton D had five sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery and dominated the outstanding Blue Bombers offence.
The Bombers will face the B.C. Lions at Investors Group Field next Saturday at 3 p.m. A win and the Big Blue is in. This week, however, there will be nothing but talk of the health of Matt Nichols.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photos by Jeff Miller