Bombers win for Bishop

Barrin Simpson and Co., made sure Michael Bishop’s debut was a winning one.

Toronto Argonaut Tyler Scott gets tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers Ian Logan

Toronto Argonaut Tyler Scott gets tackled by Winnipeg Blue Bombers Ian Logan

Blue Bombers 13 Argonauts 12

TORONTO — Barrin Simpson and Co., made sure Michael Bishop’s debut was a winning one.

Bishop threw for 213 yards and a touchdown in his first start with Winnipeg, but it was the defence that anchored the Blue Bombers’ 13-12 win over Toronto on Saturday afternoon. The unit forced seven turnovers, including Simpson’s recovery of a Jamal Robertson fumble on visitors’ 20-yard line late in the contest to preserve the tenuous one-point lead.

“That’s our mindset every week, get turnovers and make plays, big plays rather than just force two and out all the time,” said Simpson. “A lot of times we were backed up and we came up with big plays and big plays win the game for you.”

Alexis Serna’s 48-yard field goal with 4:05 remaining gave Winnipeg (2-3) its slim margin, but despite its loose play Toronto (2-3) will had a chance to pull out the win. However Jason Medlock’s 57-yard field goal try with 19 seconds remaining hit the crossbar, disappointing the sparse gathering of 23,821 with the Rogers Centre roof peeled back on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

The attempt came after Toronto was called for a time count violation — a 10-yard penalty because it came in the final three minutes — while setting up the potential game-winning 47-yard boot. The Argos still had a timeout, but Argos head coach Bart Andrus didn’t use it because he was told Winnipeg had called time to freeze Medlock.

“In retrospect I should’ve called a timeout,” he said. “I was in the wrong position at the end of the bench (talking to Argos receivers).

“It was an unfortunate situation.”

Serna’s field goal came after Medlock’s 35-yard boot put Toronto ahead 12-10 at 4:10 of the fourth.

Winnipeg’s ball-hawking defence took a lot of pressure off Bishop, 33, who started for Winnipeg despite having only four practices with the team. The six-foot-one, 215-pound quarterback — who spent nearly seven seasons in Toronto before being dealt to Saskatchewan in August 2008 — started strong, leading the Bombers to 10 first-quarter points before succumbing to fatigue and fading noticeably in the second half.

“I was tired in the second quarter,” Bishop said. “It (playing) is different from practice because you can pace yourself whereas during a game you have the clock going, guys are hustling to the line of scrimmage and your mind is just racing.

“I was good in the first quarter but that jumped on me in the second quarter. You have to credit our defence for getting the ball. We have to do a better job of putting it into the end zone when they get it for us.”

Bishop didn’t set the CFL on fire Saturday, completing just 16-of-30 passes. But he certainly fared much better than Stefan LeFors, Richie Williams and Bryan Randall, who combined for just 66 yards passing in Winnipeg’s embarrassing 19-5 home loss to Toronto.

It wasn’t the first time Bishop has led a team to victory despite limited practice time. Last year he guided Saskatchewan to victory in his Riders debut after only two practices.

Toronto’s Kerry Joseph, who was embroiled in a quarterback controversy with Bishop last year, finished 20-of-32 passing for 219 yards and a TD. But he also had four interceptions and lost a fumble while rushing 10 times for 84 yards.