Joey Elliott may have led Winnipeg to a win, but Hamilton mistakes also played a role.The Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally picked up their second victory of the season with a 32-25 home win over Hamilton Thursday, but they needed some help to get there. That help came from their opponents, who committed six turnovers that led directly to 17 Bomber points and failed to capitalize on several potential interceptions thrown by Joey Elliott. Of course, Elliott and the Bombers turned in an impressive showing of their own. Elliott made some big plays in his first start since 2010 and finished the night with 33 completions on 43 attempts (76.7 per cent) for 406 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, while Chad Simpson rushed 18 times for 86 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown and the defence and special teams made some spectacular plays. Still, although there's lots for Winnipeg fans to be happy about here, their team would be 1-6 if it wasn't for some massive stumbles from the Tiger-Cats.
One of the chief culprits on the Hamilton side was quarterback Henry Burris, who fumbled four times (losing three) and three a crucial late incompletion that doomed the Tiger-Cats. His mistakes weren't especially forgiveable ones, either; Burris fumbled on the one-yard line early on, negating what looked like a sure Tiger-Cats' touchdown, then fumbled again on a scramble and threw an incomplete pass on a bizarre late third-and-one play call. Burris wasn't the only one at fault, though. While Chris Williams was generally strong on the night, catching a pair of touchdown passes thanks to his speed and his ability to pick up yards after the catch (he had an 84-yard touchdown and a 37-yard one, part of his 160 receiving yards on five catches on the night) and picking up another touchdown on a punt return, he also lost a critical fumble that negated a big return. Other problems came from the Tiger-Cats' inability to convert on another third-down gamble and their lack of success reeling in errant passes from Elliott.
This victory will obviously feel good for Winnipeg, and there's plenty for them to be optimistic about here. The passing game looked better than it had all year despite the near-interceptions, and it would seem likely to only improve as Elliott becomes more familiar with the first-team offence. Simpson delivered in the ground game, too, and receivers Chris Matthews (eight catches, 118 yards and a touchdown) and Cory Watson (10 catches for 105 yards) came up huge. 2011 first-overall draft pick Henoc Muamba looked very good starting at middle linebacker, and he was directly responsible for forcing two fumbles, while the Bombers also finally got some quarterback pressure, recording three sacks. Still, much like Winnipeg's first win this year, this result doesn't answer all the questions about this team, especially considering how much of the victory was thanks to Hamilton mistakes.