Lions in tough again

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

And then there were three.

The slumping 11-4 B.C. Lions conclude the Canadian Football League regular season with a trio of games against the teams that dealt them the first three losses of 2005.

Lions' playoff tickets went on sale Wednesday, but the formula is simple: Win two and host the Western final.

Edmonton Eskimos, who snapped the 11-game winning streak, host B.C.'s last road game Oct. 28.

Saskatchewan Roughriders, the only visitors to win at B.C. Place Stadium in 2005, return for Nov. 5's regular season finale.

Tomorrow night's opponents are the 5-11 Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who ruined B.C.'s Thanksgiving.

"You always want another shot at the team that beat you," said linebacker Barrin Simpson. "Especially Winnipeg, they handed our lunch to us and left a bitter taste in our mouth. We're due for a win."

It's been more than a month since the Lions' last victory, a 27-26 squeaker on Sept. 17 at B.C. Place over the Montreal Alouettes.

The Als got their revenge last Sunday in a 46-44 barnburner decided by Anthony Calvillo's touchdown pass to Dave Stala with no time left on the clock.

The game was highlighted by Casey Printers' dramatic return. Casey was mighty again, with 357 yards passing and 100 yards rushing on nine carries.

Ryan Thelwell caught two touchdowns; Antonio Warren caught one and ran for another while Printers had one of his trademark dives into the end zone.

With Dave Dickenson sidelined by an Oct. 1 concussion and Buck Pierce limping, Printers showed no signs of the shoulder pain that's marred his season. However, he did admit to post-game pain.

"At times I was able to make good reads and throws," Printers said. "If they gave me lanes to run, I was able to take them. I was confident in the guys as well they were confident in me."

Dickenson returned to practice Wednesday, but may not be ready again to start this weekend. It's the first time a concussion has forced him to miss games.

Lions will be challenged to contain Bomber Milt Stegall, the league's all-time touchdown catching king.

He snagged four Kevin Glenn passes in the 44-23 Thanksgiving classic to earn the offensive player of the week citation.

The 35-year-old from Cincinnati is in his 11th CFL season. He became the Bombers' all-time catching leader against the Lions on July 22, 2004.

"We've got to do a better job," said Lions' head coach Wally Buono. "If you give him that kind of opportunity, which we did four times, he made us pay for it. You can't put all your focus on one guy, they've got other weapons."

Saturday also marks the home debut for unretired kicker Mark McLoughlin, who missed his first field goal attempt for the Lions against Montreal. The ex-Calgary Stampeder needs to connect often and from long distances to silence the boo birds that haunted Duncan O'Mahony, who remains on the roster for his punting prowess.


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