Stamps pass the test

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Seeing as the Stampeders scored on their first possession and ended up with a 38-25 victory, the assumption is easy.

On the surface, it would seem yesterday's win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was never in doubt.

But it was. Not for long, mind you, but there was a spell where the tide could have very well turned against the Stampeders while facing the CFL's East Division leaders.

In the middle of the third quarter, the explosive Bombers took a one-point lead thanks to Milt Stegall's CFL-record 143rd touchdown.

It was that all-important mettle test.

Would the Stamps fade away?

Or would they find that little extra for a win?

The answer came quick. Too quick to even take a trip to the concourse for a Spolumbo's or you'd have missed it.

On Calgary's next possession, Ryan Thelwell capped a two-play drive with a 70-yard touchdown strike.

On the following touch, after the Bombers went two-and-out, Henry Burris marched his team 68 yards in only four plays on a series that concluded with a six-yard strike to Jeremaine Copeland.

It was the difference in yesterday's affair at McMahon Stadium and the kind of performance that shows whether a team really has what it takes.

"Oh yeah ... totally," said Stamps guard Jay McNeil, the link to the team's glory years. "Guys in this room believe we can get things done, and for that to happen shows it.

"That's a good football team over there, and to get down but come back and answer that quickly is great. It builds our confidence. As long as we start believing and keep fighting, we have a chance to beat anybody."

True one game does not make a season. Nor does it come close to earning a Grey Cup. But the ability to find another gear under adversity shows just how capable this Stampeders squad is of making noise between now and the big party.

Are the Stamps sure-fire Grey Cup champs? No.

Are they legitimate contenders? You bet.

Head coach Tom Higgins can relish in seeing his team does have that intestinal fortitude.

"You look for areas you can grow on -- and there are some areas we have to improve on (ahem, penalties) -- but this group of athletes, in 2007, have never quit, and they were just showing it again," Higgins said. "They truly believe the game was there to be had, and you had to execute."

Like Thelwell's touchdown. You can bet the Bombers' collective hearts sunk a smidgen when the lead they'd finally captured was wiped out in the blink of an eye.

"Just because you go down, you can't fold your tent," Thelwell said. "The guys came out and battled, what can I say? When we got down, the offence came out and said, 'C'mon, we've got to keep scoring.' "

It was his turn to make a difference, just the position all receivers want.

"Exactly. You want to be the guy to make the plays," he said. "We just have to keep (making plays)."


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