Saturday, July 05, 2014

RedBlacks make for quite the introduction; Bombers for quite the finish!

The answer to your CFL trivia questions in the years to come will be Chevon Walker...

His will be the name of fame from the CFL debut of the team from the nation's capital,  with the RedBlacks and Walker not wasting any time introducing themselves to the TSN audience on Thursday night.

As Walker, now in his third year of CFL play (Thank you Hamilton)  scampered in for the first Touchdown for the reborn CFL franchise but four minutes into the first quarter.

That set the tone for the Ottawa debut, though by the time the final whistle would blow, the topic of discussion would be the comeback of the now undefeated Blue Bombers, something not heard in Winnipeg in  a long, long time.

For a bit there however, it appeared that the Ottawa squad was going to make for a rather historic start to their CFL return.

Following the opening ramble by Walker, Ottawa quickly followed that TD run with a display of the aerial game to come, with Henry Burris finding Dobson Collins near the Bombers ten yard line.

The two former TiCats ( by the way, thanks again Hamilton) combining for the RedBlacks second major on the night as Collins hoofed it into the end zone with eight minutes still remaining in the first quarter.

The Bombers finally found their bearings shortly after that second Ottawa score, with a solid drive engineered by Drew Willy, leading to the Bombers answer to one of the Ottawa TD's as Nic Grigsby ran the ball into the endzone from five yards out.

The opening half of football, had its share of promising trends and worrisome errors as players from both teams continued to shake some of the off season (in the case of the RedBlacks non season) cobwebs from their play.

We won't however count Bombers running back Nic Grigsby among that group. Grigsby, who arrived
in the Bombers camp as a free agent, appeared to be in mid season form, as the Bomber rookie galloped for three TD's and the bulk of the Bombers rushing yardage on the way to the Bombers 36 to 28 victory.

The Bombers turned the game their way in the final quarter, chipping away at the RedBlacks lead, game time experience for many of the Blue the deciding factor as they remained calm and focused to the task at hand.

In particular, it was a special teams effort that pushed Winnipeg towards the final stages of their comeback, a spectacular fourth quarter kick off return by Demond Washington rattled the RedBlacks, as Washington went 96 yards to put six on the board.

The conversion bringing the Bombers to within two and setting the stage for Mr. Grigsby who would prove to be the topic of the post game radio show.

Rick Campbell can find many things to like about his RedBlacks debut, for the first three quarters of play they looked anything that would resemble an expansion team (and credit the CFL for their forward thinking on that theme) the list of experienced players now wearing Red and Black played a solid game, providing a measure of confidence for those taking to the field for the first time.

For some the Ottawa experience is one more chance to step up their game and prove some previous teams wrong, for others its a continuing journey in the CFL and a chance to build something from the ground up.

There is still work to be done obviously, losing a game that most likely you should have won is a hard lesson, but a valuable teaching moment for Campbell and his staff.

The pieces are there however and despite a hard loss, the fans who have been waiting for a CFL return will like what they see in their team, more than competitive, they have shown that they can be dangerous, all they need is a bit of consistency to make some noise in their debut season.

Over on the home side of the field from Friday, the Winnipeg faithful are talking football again and talking about winning football, something that they haven't had opportunity to do much in recent years.

Mike O'Shea is proving to be just the right fit for this Bombers team, his balance of enthusiasm and CFL experience is making the Bombers much more than competitive, the comeback of Friday indicative of a team that doesn't get rattled, stays true to the message from the coach and finds a way to execute it at the right time.

Compared to how things looked for Winnipeg at the end of last season, 2014 is indeed a case of turning the page and looking to the future, after two games it's a fairly positive future that Bomber fans can be looking for.

Some reviews of Thursday's week two opener can be found below:

Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers roar back to beat RedBlacks for first winning streak in three years
Winnipeg Free Press-- Won hard and put away wet
Ottawa Sun-- RedBlacks put up points early before losing first game to Blue Bombers
Ottawa Citizen-- RedBlacks lose but win fans over
CBC-- Nic Grigsby, Blue Bombers spoil RedBlack's debut

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