CALGARY - The buzzword in Regina this week is resiliency.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders, no matter how down and out they may seem, won’t give up, will fight back to win.
Following the Riders’ 41-38 overtime win Sunday over the B.C. Lions in the West semi-final, quarterback Darian Durant called his team resilient. Defensive back Lance Frazier echoed that statement.
Certainly, when you have just six completions in the first half and the quarterback is erratic, mounting two comebacks — the final one in overtime — shows some mettle.
“If that determines resiliency, then they do have some but we’re no slouches in that department either,” said Stampeders defensive end Justin Phillips.
“We’ve stepped up to the challenge every time we’ve been faced with one. We’ve answered the bell as well.”
The challenge now is to beat the Riders for the first time in four post-season meetings.
There aren’t a lot of dramatic comebacks on the Stamps’ schedule this season, but most of the time they weren’t needed.
Twelve times the Stamps won games while leading after three quarters, but they did lose three other times.
They didn’t have a comeback when twice losing heading into the fourth quarter, but there are other ways to measure a team’s toughness.
“I thought it was pretty resilient going into Saskatchewan and winning that game to basically clinch first place,” Phillips said of the Oct. 17 meeting.
The Stamps did come up just short in three of their five losses this season.
In Toronto in Week 3, they stumbled on what would have been a game-tying field-goal drive.
In Week 12, the Riders pulled out an overtime win when Nik Lewis fell down on a third-down gamble.
In Week 17, Arjei Franklin dropped the game-winning TD against the B.C. Lions.
They did manage to gut out close wins against the Riders, the Blue Bombers and the Ticats though, so it’s not like it never happens.
“We have a lot of veterans on this team,” said right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas.
“There are a lot of new guys too, but this is close to the same group from two years ago.
“When we went to the Grey Cup, we had a lot of those battles and you don’t soon forget those. I have no doubt if we have to slug it out, we will battle and come out on top.”
Meanwhile, unlike most of Calgary, Dimitri Tsoumpas awoke Tuesday with a smile on his face.
The wet snow that greeted Calgary drivers actually made the Stampeders offensive lineman happy, even though he was due downtown for a rally.
If the snow holds through Sunday’s West final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at McMahon Stadium, nothing would make Tsoumpas happier.
“It serves the O-line,” said Tsoumpas about the weather. “Let’s get after it. We’re cold- weather animals.
“This reminds me of how Alberta should be, with all the snow. It’s good. I’m excited.”
The forecast calls for an overcast sky with temperatures between-10C and -20C.
Sounds like it’s going to be a trench battle of epic proportions, and the home side has an advantage in that area, at least statistically.
With an offensive line anchored by Tsoumpas, the Stamps do have the top rushing offence in the CFL, and have allowed the second-fewest amount of sacks.