Bombers hope for new ending

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

That deja vu feeling is creeping closer all the time.

Before the Blue Bombers beat the Alouettes in Montreal last week, Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown suggested that it would be a storybook script if his squad could reverse the fortunes it suffered in 2001.

Back then, the high-and-mighty Bombers were heavily favoured to beat the 8-10 Calgary Stampeders. The Stamps upset Winnipeg in that CFL championship -- in Montreal where this year's Grey Cup will be held.

With the 44-30 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats yesterday, the Bombers finish the regular season with an 8-10 record.

"We have to do a lot of things fantastically well for that to even be a possibility right now," Brown said. "That would be something but I'm not getting past Edmonton at all right now with any forecasting or predictions."

Winnipeg plays host to the Eskimos, the Western cross-over squad, in the Eastern Semifinal this Saturday.

"We ended our year 6-2 in the last eight games and that's a remarkable turnaround after starting the year at 2-8," Brown said. "We went from one of the worst teams in the CFL to one of the hottest teams down the stretch, and this is the kind of momentum we want to carry into the playoffs.

"We beat them here the last time we played them and they really handed it to us out there so I think we're two pretty well-matched teams ... It's going to come down to a test of wills of who wants it more, I think, on Saturday. We really need to play up our homefield advantage because we're going to need every added advantage we can have against these guys because it's going to be a hell of a game."

The Bombers have sold 21,500 tickets to that match to date.

SACK BONUS: Bomber DE Gavin Walls recorded his 10th quarterback sack of the season, which likely puts him into a bonus situation.

"It feels good," he said. "It's been a tough year, man. We've been going through some nicks and bruises. But I don't really care about stats, I just worry about winning and that's what we're doing.

"We've been turning this thing around. Everybody could get down on us and say what they wanted to say about us during the season but everybody remembers November ... We're back to where we should have been the whole time."

RAMBLING REID: Bomber RB Fred Reid rushed for 160 yards on just 14 carries as the club exceeded the 200-yard mark for the second time this season.

"That's the best game I've had in the CFL, hands down, and I felt good," said Reid, who sat out last week with sore ribs. "I could have had more if I had stayed in this game.

"Hopefully, it will carry over into next week now. I'm real confident right now. I feel like I can do that every week and doing this going into a playoff game is right timing right now."

READY FOR RAY: Bomber DB Jovon Johnson picked off a Casey Printers pass and returned it 50 yards for a TD in the first quarter.

"The quarterback threw the ball and I beat him (receiver) to the spot and made the play and what more can I say?" Johnson said. "The rest was history."

Although the Bombers sat several pass defenders, those who dressed were equal to the task.

"That's big," Johnson said. "That's momentum going into the playoffs.

"Edmonton will come here and I expect them to throw the ball. They've got good receivers, good speed and a good good quarterback (Ricky Ray) who drops the ball where it needs to be. We're going to have to be on top of our game because, if we're not, they're going to come in and win the game."


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