Menu
@
June 29, 2024

Game Recap | WPG 19 CGY 22 OT

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Zach Collaros (8) throws the ball under pressure from Calgary Stampeders' Mike Rose (41) during first half CFL football action in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, June 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – No sense sugar-coating it, so here we go right off the top with the straight goods: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ start to the 2024 season has featured some serious up-poop-creek-without-a-paddle action.

Already decimated by injuries across their depth chart, the Blue Bombers fell to 0-4 to start the campaign following a 22-19 overtime loss to the Calgary Stampeders in front of 22,386 at McMahon Stadium.

What’s worse is Zach Collaros exited at halftime following a hellacious hit to the chest and did not return.

Even after all that – and with the injured list stacked with starters like Dalton Schoen, Kenny Lawler, Keric Wheatfall, Miles Fox, Celestin Haba, Cam Lawson and Jamal Parker – the Blue Bombers served up a valiant, but mistake-filled effort that was one play shy from being a dramatic comeback instead of another crushing loss.

Winnipeg rallied from an 18-9 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game on a Chris Streveler-to-Drew Wolitarsky TD with 57 seconds left to send the game to overtime. On the Blue Bombers’ first possession in OT, Streveler was hit while trying to connect with Nic Demski in the end zone and the ball was picked off by old friend Demerio Houston.

That set up a 52-yard game-winning field goal by Rene Paredes.

“It’s one game. We’ve got to find a way to get it done,” said Streveler. “We’re all going to look back and say we all made some mistakes. We didn’t play good enough to win. We made mistakes in critical moments – you can’t throw an interception at the end of the game when we’re in field goal range.

“Everyone is going to look back and wish they had plays back. We obviously didn’t move the ball well enough at all in the third quarter. We put a drive together when we needed to in the fourth. We just have to find a way to get it done. It’s just a play here or there and that’s how the last three games have been.

“It’s frustrating. But we’re going to take ownership of this. We’re going to have a good week of preparation and we’re going to keep fighting.”

More on the Blue Bombers fourth loss of the season – the first time the club has opened a season 0-4 since 2012 – from our view in the press box…

COLLAROS UPDATE:

There isn’t really one yet, to be honest. After the game head coach Mike O’Shea offered this: “I don’t really know. I think he’ll be fine. (The decision to keep him out was) precautionary.”

Collaros was drilled by Stampeders defensive tackle Josiah Coatney with 3:53 left in the first half on a pass attempt to Nic Demski and felt every bit of Coatney’s 348 pounds after taking a helmet to the chest in the collision.

He was 8-of-12 at the time for just 55 yards and one interception, but after the injury Sergio Castillo hit a field goal to put the visitors up 6-4.

Streveler started the game 3-of-7 but finished the game 14-of-24 for 170 yards with the TD to Wolitarsky and the late interception.

“We started to put some stuff together there in the fourth quarter toward the end,” said Streveler. “We started to find a rhythm. We’ve got a lot of young guys in there feeling it out and I haven’t gotten lot of reps in there with those young receivers. We started to talk and make plays and build confidence as we started to make plays. We got them on their heels, we got some first downs. It’s hard when we’re not getting first downs and we’re two-and-out. It puts a lot of pressure on the defence. It’s hard for guys on offence to get into a rhythm and that’s on me – I’ve got to complete more balls and make more plays. We’re all going to say that.”

INJURIES, AND SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS:

The Blue Bombers took eight penalties for 60 yards, including six procedure or offside infractions on offence. The offence managed just 78 yards rushing and 297 yards net offence and that inconsistency spoiled a much better performance by the defence which limited Calgary to 307 yards and forced two turnovers.

“Too many mistakes to win that tight one,” said O’Shea. “We put ourselves in a bind a few times. I thought defensively we cleaned up the explosion plays. I thought we probably could have taken the ball away a little bit more than we did, so we didn’t make those big plays. But I thought our defence held them in check pretty damn good, especially when they had the wind.

“Offensively, we scored when we needed to but just along the way in tight game with where we’re at a handful of mistakes and it ends up being a few too many.”

FYI:

Kicker Sergio Castillo connected on a 60-yard field in the fourth quarter, setting a record for the longest in club history, and trying for the second longest in CFL history behind a 63-yard bomb by Paul McCallum of Saskatchewan in 2001. The previous club record had been set by Bernie Ruoff in 1975 and then matched by Justin Medlock in 2016.

“It’s just the confidence that Osh and Coach Mike Miller gave me and then having the operation I’ve got with (long-snapper Mike) Benson and Jams (holder Jamieson Sheahan), it makes it easy.

“It doesn’t mean much right now because we didn’t get the ‘W.’ I wish we could have got the win.”

GROUND GAME HALTED:

Winnipeg was limited along the ground, with the Stamps front seven holding Brady Oliveira to just 26 yards rushing on 10 carries. Streveler was actually the club’s leading rusher with 27 yards on six carries.

“They’ve got a great front seven – their D-line did a great job and their linebackers are very active,” said Oliveira. “I’m a competitor and I want to play against the best. It was a challenge for us today, but we did some things well. We were right there. We were in it.

“We talked about it earlier in week. We’ve each got to face adversity head on and overcome it. There’s so many good guys in this locker room. We’re in it together. We’ll come back to work, correct everything and keep working.”

KEY MOMENT

The Blue Bombers rallied with the late Wolitarsky score to push the game to extra time. Winnipeg had the first possession in OT and moved the ball to Calgary’s 16 after a 19-yard Streveler-to-Pokey Wilson catch. On second and 10 the Stamps blitzed and Streveler’s arm was hit as he tried to connect with Demski and the ball was picked by Demerio Houston.

KEY STAT: 9

The Blue Bombers have now lost their last three games by a combined nine points – 23-19 to Ottawa, 26-24 to B.C. and now 22-19 to Calgary.

NEXT: Blue Bombers are back home next week with the Ottawa RedBlack paying a visit to Princess Auto Stadium on Friday, July 5th with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.