October 7, 2019

Upon Further Review | WPG 6 SSK 21

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler (17) attempts a pass during first half CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, in Regina on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

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They took turns with their mea-culpas. And then they respectfully saluted the men they had just spent three hours trading blows against in what was an absolute slobber-knocker.

That was just part of the scene inside a sombre Winnipeg Blue Bombers locker room Saturday night in Regina, just as it was last weekend following a loss to Hamilton, and the week before that in the meltdown in Montreal.

All of that isn’t new for a football team which has seen so much of the goodwill from a 5-0 start to a 9-3 record at the two-thirds mark of the Canadian Football League season get flushed in a losing streak that hit three games with a 21-6 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.

But the bigger question for this crew now is simply this: beside the acknowledgements of blame and the tip of the chapeau to the opposition, what’s next?

More specifically, with their playoff ticket already punched, does this Blue Bombers team which showed so much promise earlier this year trip and stumble to the postseason, or can it find magic again before November?

“It’s either we do or we don’t and at this point, we have to,” began safety Brandon Alexander. “We have no choice. We’ve made the playoffs, but we’ve got to hit it running now. We don’t want to be pressing the brakes, we want to be stepping on the gas right now.”

There was a little of both pressing the brakes and stepping on the gas in Saturday’s loss to the Riders.

The Bombers wasted a valiant effort by the defence, which had kept the game close into the final minutes – it was 14-6 and a one-score game to the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter – but the struggles of the offence and turnovers were mammoth.

The offence had 15 possessions Saturday night, eight ending in punts, to go along with two interceptions, a fumble, a turnover on downs, two Justin Medlock field goals and the game-ending drive that ended on the Riders’ 41-yard line as time expired.

Asked after the game about the three straight losses and ‘where does this leave you guys?’ Andrew Harris offered a sense of his resolve.

“A home game next week against Montreal. We’ve just got to flush this and move forward. We still control our destiny in a sense and we can still come together and go on a run here and do some good things.

“You guys (media) are going to be on us and think this is a crisis and we’re freaking out, but we’re going to come together and we’re going to battle. We fought for 60 minutes today and obviously fell short. But I still have full confidence in this team and my teammates and the coaching staff and we’ll get through this.”

More on the Bombers loss in Regina Saturday night in our weekly post-game collection of notes and quotes we call ‘UPON FURTHER REVIEW’…

NO ONE WAS WEARING THE LOSS… more than Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler, who threw two interceptions and had a fumble all in Riders territory in the second half of what was a defensive battle, effectively taking a minimum of nine points off the board.

“Pretty disappointed,” said Streveler afterward when asked to assess his own performance. “I had three turnovers inside field goal range and pretty deep in the score zone. Pretty disappointed.

“The defence played amazing tonight. Offensively, we just didn’t do enough. The defence kept us in it all game. They did an outstanding job and I can’t say enough about their play and the special teams with the wind and stuff did a good job of getting us field position. We just didn’t capitalize enough offensively.”

Streveler was 26 of 40 on the night for 254 yards with zero TDs and the two picks. The Bombers offence, FYI, has just one TD in the last 10 quarters dating back to the loss in Montreal.

“We’ve got to learn from this tomorrow, that’s the first step,” said Streveler. “Get in the film room and get better from it. We have a good enough team. We’ve got to put it together and put together a cleaner game.

“It’s not a question of talent or personnel, I mean, we have good game plans and good players. We’ve just got to play cleaner games.”

FOR THOSE IMPLORING BOMBERS MANAGEMENT to make a move of some sort by acquiring a veteran QB before the CFL trade deadline – it’s this Wednesday at 2:59 p.m. – it remains highly unlikely the club will pull the trigger on a deal.

Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea was asked post-game if there was a concern about where the offence is right now and said this:

“No. I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m very confident we can move the ball, score some points. I thought this was going to be a defensive battle anyway. We’ve proven we can score points, we just have to get out there, execute and do it.”

Added Harris on the Bombers offensive turnovers:

“Streveler is trying to push the ball down (the field). I don’t fault him for the turnovers. We want to push that ball down and their DBs made great plays. You want to see that out of the guy, to push the ball down the field. It’s just unfortunate they came away with it sometimes.”

Unless something changes, that means the Bombers will proceed with Streveler and rookie Sean McGuire at the QB position, with newcomer Trevor Knight on the practice roster.

THE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES WEREN’T LIMITED TO THE OFFENCE as several Bombers defenders lamented their chances to turn the ball over themselves.

“Missed opportunities. I had one,” said Alexander. “I had a dropped interception that could have gone 15 yards for a touchdown. It’s just making the plays when they’re gifted to you, given to you, on both sides of the ball.

“The effort was good. The tackling was good. We’ve just got to be able to create takeaways and we didn’t do that today.”

“At this point, it’s playoff football and you’ve got to get more takeaways and give your offence more opportunities,” added Adam Bighill. “It doesn’t matter who’s at the helm, our hallmark is takeaways and giving our offence more opportunities.”

AND, FINALLY, ONE MORE FROM ALEXANDER… “We believe. We all believe. We all know the situation and what’s going on. Nobody is hanging their heads. We’re definitely upset about this game, but we’re not hanging our heads about next week. We’ve got Montreal and they came back and put it on us a couple of weeks ago. We’ll rally behind our guys.”