BUILD­ING CHAR­AC­TER

Bombers fol­low­ing their leader Matt Ni­chols in come­back wins

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - TED WYMAN

There can’t be many times in a foot­ball player’s life when his team is rid­ing a roll quite like this one.

In the span of eight days, the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers won two games in ex­hil­a­rat­ing fash­ion, com­ing back late in the fourth quar­ter and sav­ing the win­ning points for the fi­nal play on both oc­ca­sions.

It’s still very early in the CFL sea­son and the Bombers are only 4-2 and tied for third place in the tough West Di­vi­sion, but these past two weeks have to be an in­di­ca­tion of what kind of char­ac­ter this team pos­sesses.

To do it once — com­ing back with two touch­downs in the fi­nal minute to beat Mon­treal 41-40 at home — was im­pres­sive enough.

To fol­low that up by eras­ing a seven-point Ottawa Red­blacks lead with un­der three min­utes to play and win­ning 33-30 on a Justin Med­lock field goal with ze­ros on the clock, was over the top.

“Win or loss, I’m happy to be on this team,” vet­eran cor­ner­back Chris Ran­dle said. “We have a bond and a chem­istry that’s un­de­ni­able. We’re go­ing to do what­ever it takes to win games. To win them in this fash­ion just shows our re­siliency and our de­ter­mi­na­tion in all phases, to put it all out there on the line when it mat­ters most.”

When it was needed most in the past two weeks, the Bombers were a calm, col­lected and fo­cused bunch.

They me­thod­i­cally shred­ded the Alou­ettes de­fence last week and this week used a com­bi­na­tion of out­stand­ing de­fen­sive play, good of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion and Med­lock’s stel­lar leg to en­gi­neer three field goals in the fi­nal three min­utes and win by three.

“It was our most com­plete game of the sea­son,” Bombers quar­ter­back Matt Ni­chols said. “I feel like even in the first quar­ter, when they were go­ing on some drives, the de­fence did a good job and held them to a field goal on the sec­ond one.

“Of­fence started the game off well. I don’t think that we had a two-and-out all night if I’m not mis­taken. So I think that we moved the ball well, we kept the de­fence fresh and did ev­ery­thing we wanted to do in this game aside from the of­fence fin­ish­ing off with a cou­ple more touch­downs.”

It’s true, the Bombers red-zone of­fence wasn’t as good Fri­day as it had been the rest of the sea­son. But their de­fence, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­ondary, was vastly im­proved over last week, hold­ing Trevor Har­ris and the Red­blacks to just 263 yards through the air.

I’ve been say­ing all along that if this team gets it to­gether on de­fence, watch out.

Their of­fence has been pro­duc­tive all sea­son, av­er­ag­ing over 33 points per game. If the de­fence per­forms as well as it did late in Fri­day’s game, when it forced the Red­blacks to two straight twoand-outs in the dy­ing min­utes, the Bombers are go­ing to be very tough to beat.

Their of­fence was a thing of beauty on Fri­day night.

From the very first play, when Ni­chols hit Ryan Lank­ford for a quick-strike 79-yard touch­down, the of­fence looked sharp. Ni­chols spread the ball around to Darvin Adams, T.J. Thorpe, Clarence Den­mark and Ju­lian Fe­oliGudino and used both Andrew Har­ris and Timothy Flan­ders in the ground at­tack (they com­bined for 83 yards).

It was a play by Ni­chols at the be­gin­ning of the third quar­ter that, to us, de­fined his value to the Bombers right now.

Flushed out of the

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