Character test time for Stamps

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Will the real Calgary Stampeders please stand up?

Whether it's the club that won three games based on an unstoppable offence and sound defence or the club that lost three times based on last-minute breakdowns, tonight's game in Saskatchewan represents the perfect chance to set the record straight.

Having been guilty of their worst outing of the year when it mattered most last weekend against Saskatchewan, tonight's rematch is one of those major character tests.

While we were led to believe early on this team was finally ready to turn the corner after years of extremely average football, two losses in a row have many believing it's just the same old, same old.

"I'm surprised to hear that because despite what we're going through in these last two games, we had a chance to win all our losses," said Henry Burris, who described last week's loss as being "rock bottom" in a 3-3 season.

"Six points combined in three losses all in under a minute -- it's amazing that we we're playing that bad and still had a chance to win at the end of every game. But hey, if we're playing our worst in that situation I can't wait to see how we're playing when we're clicking as a team."

The story in last week's 22-21 loss to the undefeated Roughriders -- outside of the devastatingly unwarranted ejection of run-stopping linebacker JoJuan Armour -- was the dropped balls, lack of discipline and missed opportunity.

This week? Who knows.

"I don't say it's a redemption game," said Burris, returning to his old haunt where the pressure mounts in so many ways, including the fact he was almost yanked last week by head coach John Hufnagel.

"We don't want to be 3-4 but we want to come out and play the way we're supposed to play then let the cards fall where they may. Drops and having penalties might have been partially because of the way they played, but that directly falls on us in terms of making good decisions and doing the right things."

The question is not just can they play better tonight, but can they do it for sustained periods of time?

"I think it's one of those games we have to show up -- we played poorly three quarters and did the same against Winnipeg and you can't do that in this league," said Randy Chevrier. "We need to prove we can play the full 60 minutes."

Yes, yes, we've heard that all too many times here in the Burris/Doug Mitchell/Ted Hellard era.

Now, against the hottest team in the league and in the most hostile of environments, would be the perfect time to stand up and prove you can run with the big boys for as long as it takes to win.

After all, last week the club failed under the glare of the league's brightest spotlight as it has each of the last three playoffs.

"When you don't show up to play against one of your biggest rivals and half the stands are filled with their fans, and it takes you three quarters to get stuff going it is frustrating, embarrassing and infuriating," said Chevrier.

"But there is a light at the end of the tunnel because in the final 15 minutes we were able to bring the game within one and almost won it on the last play. The thing is, what can we do in 60 minutes?"

Now is the time to find out before the club dips below .500 and into what has become a familiar tailspin at this time of year.

"You've got to understand this is still a new team now --we've got a lot of new players," reminded Burris of the club's constant rebuilding. "Yes, it's the same old, same old in that regard, but as the season goes on, we're going to get better."

Then show us.


Photos