You can blame Richie Hall for allowing another 300-yard passing game. You can blame the defence for taking countless 15-yard penalties. You can blame all the missed tackles.
You wouldn’t be wrong. All of these surely contributed to the Bombers’ full-blown collapse at BC Place, resulting in a 20-17 loss to the Lions after leading 17-0 at halftime.
Ultimately, though, this game is completely on Paul LaPolice’s offence.
Upon kicking a field goal with 8:56 left in the second quarter to make it 17-0, the Bombers had eight more possessions to put together one more scoring drive — just one — which would have likely been the nail in the coffin for a BC-Lion team low on confidence. On seven of those drives, the Bombers either entered field-goal range or came within, at most, two first-downs of getting there.
|3||B-51||BC-1||Turnover on downs|
|4||W-35||BC-7||Turnover on downs|
Had even one of these drives turned into points, the Bombers probably would have won the game. It didn’t matter if it had been the first-drive on the above list or the second-last one.
But the Bombers got in their own way, enabling the Lions to mount what should have been an impossible comeback. Regarded as the best offensive coordinator in the league in many circles, Coach LaPolice called his worst game of his current tenure in blue and gold, failing to take advantage of eight different opportunities to win the game.
Here are five plays unsuccessful offensive plays in the game that would have sealed the win for the Bombers had they been properly executed:
1. Darvin Adams’ second-quarter drop
After Justin Medlock’s second-quarter field goal gave the Bombers a 17-0 lead, Travis Lulay and the Lions’ offence went two-and-out, giving the Bombers a golden opportunity to deflate the Lions with a third-consecutive scoring possession.
After advancing the football to the Lions’ 52, Lapolice called a head-scratching double reverse run to Rashaun Simonise — who, at 6’5″, is not the most nimble athlete on the team — on first-down, which was limited to a one-yard gain. Thankfully, though, Nichols delivered a strike on 2nd-&-9 down the seam to Darvin Adams to move the chains, putting the Bombers at the 37-yard-line with a fresh set of downs.
Except he didn’t. The ball went right through the hands of the typically sure-handed receiver, forcing Coach O’Shea to send out his punt team in opponent territory.
2. Turnover on downs from BC’s 2-yard-line
At this point in the game, the Lions’ offence had hit rock-bottom. Prior to halftime, horrible clock management resulted in the Lions coming away with zero points after driving the ball to the Bombers’ 5-yard-line, and then on their first possession of the second half, they turned the ball over on downs in their own territory.
The Bombers took over at the Lions 52, with yet another opportunity to ice the game. And they did everything right, driving the ball down to a 3rd-down play from the 2-yard-line.
This is where the game changed.
For starters, I have no problem with the Bombers’ decision to go for it. According to Coach O’Shea post-game, the Bombers were 25/26 in short-yardage last season, and had supreme success in short-yardage the week prior against BC.
There is, however, a problem with the play-call. Coach LaPolice gave backup QB Chris Streveler two designed shotgun runs from the inside the 3, denying Andrew Harris a golden opportunity to notch a hat-trick on the night.
The third-down call — a shotgun quarterback dive — was particularly surprising, as the Bombers ran the exact same play last week for a touchdown, and BC had all week to watch it on tape. LaPolice is so successful because he adds new tricks and looks every week; to run the exact same play in the same situation — against the same team exactly one week later — is not great play-calling.
3. Turnover-on-downs from BC’s 7-yard-line
This is the same story as the Bombers’ first turnover-on-downs of the night.
Once again, I have no issue with the decision to go for it on 3rd-&-1; the Lions had just made it 17-10, and the Bombers have the best short-yardage crew in the league. But, once, again, LaPolice went back to a play that worked for the Bombers last week against the Lions (Streveler went around the edge for a 26-yard romp on 3rd-&-1 in week four) and expected it to work again.
After last week, however, the Lions know first-hand that the Bombers have a tendency to run outside on short-yardage, and they were ready for it. Odell Willis penetrated into the backfield almost immediately, bringing down Streveler for a 3-yard loss and the Bombers’s second third-down turnover of the night.
4. Incompletion to Dressler in fourth-quarter
After a great hold from the defence to keep the game 17-10, Nichols and the offence took over at their own 45-yard-line with six minutes left. The Bombers needed to control the clock to give their defence a rest, but chose not to put the ball in Harris’ hands despite the 31-year-old’s 139 rushing yards on the night. Instead, Nichols dropped back to pass on first-down, and it became clear his confidence was shaken, having already thrown a pair of bad interceptions in the game.
Although there was a defender in the face, the Bombers needed Nichols to make this throw. The Bombers would have been in second-down Harris-territory, and it would have helped Nichols’ confidence. They would have been one more first-down away from a game-sealing field goal.
After this incompletion, it became clear that the Bombers were, officially, choking.
5. Late-game interception on throw to Demski
The game is now 17-17. The Bombers have had seven possessions to get just one field-goal, and have been unsuccessful. But none of that matters now.
They get the ball back after a BC touchdown with 1:50 left to put together a game-winning drive. And not only is there more than enough time, but the drive starts from mid-field after a penalty on the kick-off. The Bombers are a first-down or two away from all their previous miscues and mistakes since 8:56 of the second quarter not mattering in the grand-scheme of things. It is truly an ideal, even dream-type scenario for an offence.
But Andrew Harris did not get the football. Instead, a mentally-shaken Matt Nichols is sacked on first-down, and a second-&-18 throw into traffic is knocked into the air and intercepted — to the surprise of no Bomber fan.
Should Nic Demski have made a better play on the football? Absolutely. But he shouldn’t have even been put in that position, as Andrew Harris and his 10.7 yard-per-carry average should have been putting the Bombers in second-and-manageable.
Ultimately, this poor play-call and execution was one of many offensive blunders in the game that cost the Bombers.