The Bombers get their first victory of the season, but it doesn’t prove they’re back just yet

When a team ends an 0-4 slump, there's a temptation to immediately declare that better days are assuredly ahead. Many will undoubtedly do that in the wake of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' first victory of 2012, a 23-22 win over the Edmonton Eskimos Thursday, but from this corner, that seems premature. It may be only the wins and losses that matter in the final standings, but other elements play into how well a team is really playing, including individual statistical performances, margin of victory, strength of schedule and whether they're at home or on the road. Winnipeg's victory Thursday was less than dominant in just about every respect, and while it's assuredly a step forward for them and much better than a loss, there are reasons to think they'll have to perform better than this if they really want to turn their season around.

For starters, there's how this game actually played out. In particular, there were two rare plays that went in the Bombers' favour, a successful second-quarter-ending Hail Mary from Alex Brink to Chris Matthews and a crucial late fumble from Edmonton quarterback Steven Jyles that the Bombers recovered. If that bomb to Matthews falls incomplete instead, Winnipeg almost certainly loses this game (as that's a seven-point swing), and if the Bombers aren't able to recover Jyles' fumble, the Eskimos would have had another chance to tie the game or take the lead. That's not to say that Bombers like Matthews and Jake Thomas (who recovered the fumble) didn't make crucial plays at vital times, as they absolutely did and deserve credit for doing so. It's just pointing out that if you're relying on those kinds of unusual plays to win games, you may not wind up with a lot of victories.

It's more than just those moments that suggest there are still questions to be asked of the Bombers, though. Their offensive statistics on the night weren't bad, as Chad Simpson rushed 14 times for 73 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown (although he fumbled once as well) and Alex Brink bounced back from an atrocious nine-for-34 showing in Week Four against Toronto with a respectable 26 completions on 38 attempts (68.4 per cent) for 296 yards and a touchdown (although he did have two interceptions). However, those statistics didn't indicate an overwhelming offence (and neither did the 23 points they scored), and their defence wasn't dominant either, allowing the perennially-struggling Jyles to throw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and letting Hugh Charles rush 15 times for 76 yards (5.1 yards per carry). Moreover, this game came at home, which may provide as much as a seven-point advantage; that seems reasonable when you consider how the raucous crowd of 29,533 may have affected the Edmonton offence.

It's also worth pointing out that this was against an Edmonton team that may have been 3-1 heading into this game, but hasn't shown a lot of offence thus far and was under significant fire as recently as the build-up to their clash against Winnipeg two weeks ago. Moreover, the Bombers remain last in the league with 101 points scored (20.2 per game), despite having played an extra game than everyone except the Eskimos, and they've allowed a league-high 163 points (an average of 32.6 points against per game, which is up there with the CFL's worst defences); that doesn't suggest that they're a team that's merely been unlucky. Of course, it will certainly help that the Bombers are past their season-opening four-game road trip and have picked up their first win, and they were more impressive Thursday than they have been all year, so it's not completely implausible that they'll return to the form that saw them make it to the Grey Cup last year. It just seems like a bridge too far at this point to suggest that a one-point home win over a team with plenty of its own issues proves that everything's all right in Winnipeg.