Stamps fine backing in

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:08 PM ET

Sure, the Calgary Stampeders officially clinched a playoff spot from their comfy couches Saturday night.

To them, it doesn't mean any less than if it had been achieved by beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the night before.

"We've won seven games to this point," said veteran offensive lineman Jay McNeil yesterday. "We still have two games, so we haven't back-doored anything. All we needed to get is one more point.

"Getting in the playoffs is getting in the playoffs, it doesn't matter how it's done. We've won seven games so far and hopefully it'll be nine."

Head coach Tom Higgins congratulated his charges after yesterday's practice.

And there was no concern about Edmonton's loss to B.C. making it official.

"We played well enough to get ourselves to this point that we're in, and can't wait until the season's over because everyone's record is the same," Higgins said. "We're gonna do it on the road, and there's nothing wrong with that. We can then erase the fact we haven't won outside the province of Alberta."

"You want to win every time," said defensive lineman Randy Chevrier, "but in the standings we put ourselves in a position where either/or would have put us in, and you've got to feel good about that. The alternative is not making the playoffs.

"You've got to get to the post-season, and sometimes it's ugly, but you've got to win games to get in and we're in."

Since before the season began, the Stamps have known their litmus test would be how they fare in the Grey Cup chase.

Having lost in the West semifinal in each of the last two years, blowing halftime leads of 14 points and 16 points in the process, they're well aware the Nov. 11 game for a berth in the Western Final is the big test.

"You can say you're a good team if you want, but if you're not winning games you're not," McNeil said. "We're not going to be satisfied with just making the playoffs. We want to keep it going."

This season, the Stamps have failed to put together a run.

They put together a single three-game winning streak -- snapped in Hamilton in the game quarterback Henry Burris suffered a dislocated shoulder during what could have been a game-winning drive -- and won only twice on the road.

However, Chevrier believes the glimpses of greatness shown by the Stampeders when Burris was on his game is the club that will hit the field in the divisional semifinal.

"I'd like to think the team we are is the team that played Winnipeg when Henry came back," he said.


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