Sunday, September 12, 2004

Roberts Blasts by Riders in Banjo Bowl

Charles Roberts carried the ball 22 times for 159 yards, leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 27-24 squeaker over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday afternoon. Roberts carried one ball in for a touchdown and got six more points on a TD reception and if not for a fumble, recovered by Bomber Milt Stegall, Roberts would have scored all of the Blue’s offensive points, Troy Westwood added the field goal and a single off a missed attempt, while Jonathon Ryan picked up two points on punts.

Billed as the Banjo Bowl, after a tongue in cheek comment about Saskatchewan fans by Bomber Westwood, the game drew the largest crowd of the season to Canad Inn stadium. Over 27,000 sat to the very end as the Riders launched a last minute drive that came up just short. A drive engineered by Rider QB Henry Burris who came up two yards short on a third and fifteen play.

Kevin Glenn got the start for the Bombers once again, as Khari Jones continues to recover from shoulder problems, Glenn had an average day of it throwing 28 passes with 15 completions for 256 yards, giving up one interception along the way. But it was the running of Roberts that put this one into the win column for the Bombers.

Records show that whenever Roberts gets over 100 yards in a game the Blue are on the winning side every time, the 4th year Bomber has won 16 games with the Blue when crashes the 100 yard barrier. And perhaps that is the essence of the Bombers struggles this year, they haven’t been able to give him the ball enough to make a difference. Normally trailing in games or getting off to a horrendous start, they far too often have had to play the long ball in a desperate bid to get back into a game. When they can launch Roberts early and keep pushing him through the holes the result is much more to the liking of the Bombers and their fans!

With the win the Blue now hold down uncontested custody of third place with a 5-7 record, Saskatchewan suffering its third straight loss (and second in a row to the Bombers) are now in fourth with a 4 – 8 record. The Riders will regroup and take on the Hamilton tiger Cats next Sunday in Hamilton, while the Bombers are home again, this time to Toronto on Saturday. While the Bombers game will be aired on the CBC on Saturday, the Riders once again will be shuffled off of the media "A" list, as there is no television coverage planned for the Ticats-Riders game. Yet another questionable move by the CFL head office as they seem to want to avoid taking on the NFL on Sunday broadcasts.

In an unusual strategy of media exposure by the CFL, the Bomber-Rider game was shown only on the Sporstnet West network, those lucky Sportsnet subscribers who live in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. For those in the rest of the country who could not find the clicker to the television, it was yet another riveting broadcast of those basement dwelling Toronto Blue Jays. (31 games out of the pennant race and playoff hunt, for those that stopped watching after the May Long weekend!).

Why the CFL would cede the first week of the NFL season to the Big Money league is uncertain and certainly an error from the league office. After the huge crowds and ratings of the Labour Day weekend games one would have thought that the league would be anxious to keep its profile high, especially on the launch weekend of the NFL. Instead Sportsnet was given the western rematch of two tough rivals only to keep it as a little prairie secret, while over in Montreal only RDS the French sports channel had the broadcast for the Hamilton-Montreal game. Only the most dedicated sports fan in English Canada has purchased the digital package that gets you RDS.

While losing out on the Als game probably wouldn’t have been a disappointment to a BC sports fan (one suspects we would know how that game was going to end) not airing the Riders/Bombers in this market seems dumb! Beside the fact that these are teams in the same division as the Lions, they also have exported thousands of followers over the years to the temperate climes of coastal BC. You think there might have been an audience on Sportsnet Pacific for this game? You think that maybe the audience cume for the CFL would be larger than the horrid Blue Jays? If you answered yes to both these questions, send your resume off to Sportsnet in Toronto, they could use a programmer!

No comments: