Pierce returns, Blue Bombers outlast Argos
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Chad Simpson carried the ball 20 times for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Alex Brink added a pair of rushing scores and one through the air to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 44-32 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Friday.
Buck Pierce, who had been out of action since Sept. 29 with a laundry list of injuries, completed 13-of-22 passes for 200 yards. William Ford ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for the Blue Bombers (5-11), who won for just the third time since Week 8.
"He put us in good situations and got us out of a long field," Pierce said of Simpson. "We were able to score because of the short field he was getting us. We converted on a lot of second downs. He's one of the best professionals, he just keeps trying to do more. He's just a great inspiration to me and the players in the locker room."
Ricky Ray made his first start since Sept. 23, and didn't skip a beat, throwing for 383 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-33 passing. Jason Barnes caught three touchdown passes and Andre Durie caught six passes for 128 yards and a score for the Argonauts (7-9), who can secure a home playoff game with a Hamilton loss Saturday at Calgary.
"I was just hoping to play well enough that I could help the team," Ray said. "We missed on a few drives, and had too many turnovers. I felt like I was in good rhythm, but I missed on some throws."
Due to Toronto's loss, Montreal clinched first place in the Eastern Division.
Brink's 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Vega capped a 17-play, 89 yard drive to give the Bombers a 7-0 lead. Winnipeg then forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and turned it into a touchdown when Brink bulled his way in from one yard out to go up 14-0.
The Argos answered on their next touch when Ray found Durie for a 37-yard catch-and-run to pull within 14-7.
The Bombers, however, extended the cushion to 17-7 when Justin Palardy split the uprights from 32 yards out.
A pair of Ray touchdown passes to Barnes, for 14 and 8 yards respectively, gave the Argos their first lead of the game, but it would be short-lived.
Winnipeg quickly regained the lead when Simpson scored on a 14-yard run. Simpson took the handoff, reversed field then propelled himself across the goal line after leaping from just inside the 5-yard line to lift his team to a 24-21 lead.
Palardy's 45-yarder in the early parts of the third put the Bombers up 27-21.
Toronto got a single when Swayze Waters' 47-yard field goal attempt missed but the Argos were able to contain Clarence Denmark in the end zone.
Brink's 2-yard touchdown plunge capped an 11-play, 70-yard trek to give the Bombers a 34-22 lead.
The teams traded field goals in the early parts of the fourth before Toronto pulled within 37-32 when Ray connected with Barnes, yet again, for a 14-yard touchdown.
After forcing a fumble at the Toronto five in the final minute, Ford crossed the goal line from five yards out to put the game out of reach.
The Bombers snapped a four-game skid against the Argos, but still trail in the all-time series, 53-51-2 ... Winnipeg wide receiver Isaac Anderson had six catches for 82 yards ... Barnes notched his first-career three touchdown game.
10/19 23:06:50 ET