Gotta love those Lions!

Edmonton Eskimos' Singor Mobley grabs a loose ball after a blocked punt during the second half of...

Edmonton Eskimos' Singor Mobley grabs a loose ball after a blocked punt during the second half of Sunday's crucial game against Winnipeg at Commonwealth Stadium. (Edmonton Sun/Perry Mah)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

When in Rome, do as the Romans.

With that sage bit of advice tucked into their helmets, members of the Edmonton Eskimos will grab their togas, head for the Colosseum and be rooting for the Lions come Saturday night.

The B.C. Lions, that is.

A win by the Western Division-leading Leos over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders guarantees Edmonton a second-place finish and home-field advantage for the Nov. 7 western semifinal.

The defending Grey Cup champions ensured their 33rd consecutive trip to the CFL's post-season with a hard-fought 40-34 victory over Winnipeg at Commonwealth Stadium Sunday afternoon.

"We're in the playoffs, we're just waiting to see where we're going to play our game," smiled Esks' linebacker Singor Mobley, who fell on the ball after Jabari Issa's block of Jon Ryan's fourth-quarter punt attempt.

"We'll be rooting for B.C. heavily. All we wanted was another chance. Once the playoffs start, it's a new season and anything can happen."

With that in mind, groups of Green and Gold players will huddle in various locations around the city to watch streaking Saskatchewan battle the Lions under the dome at B.C. Place Stadium.

COULDA BEEN A DEEP HOLE

A loss Sunday would have put the Esks in a deep hole and left the team's playoff hopes in the hands of Winnipeg.

While the Esks have no control over whether they'll finish second or third in the West standings, they're still breathing a huge sigh of relief.

"It's been rough all year and that game was either do or die and we're going home," offered receiver Derrell Mitchell.

"In this type of situation, we had the home-field advantage and the crowd behind us the whole game. The guys basically played their hearts out and made plays."

Mitchell, the former Toronto Argonaut who signed with the Esks just before training camp opened, had two receptions for 44 yards on the afternoon.

The fleet-footed slotback also threw a key block, which sprang Terry Vaughn for an 11-yard gain on Edmonton's first scoring drive of the third quarter.

Although Mitchell and Mobley say they'll be cheering for the Lions, Vaughn isn't losing a whole lot of sleep over the outcome.

"It doesn't matter where we play it, we've still got to play good football," opined Vaughn. "We feel comfortable at home, but if we've got to go on the road, we've got to go on the road."

Given the Esks' struggles at Taylor Field the past three seasons, the vast majority of Green and Gold players would really rather skip another trip to the Queen City.

The hometown 12 have owned the Esks at Regina's ball yard. Edmonton has lost its last four regular-season matchups with the Riders.

Saskatchewan gave the champs a good old-fashioned butt-kicking nine days ago. The Riders erupted for 31 unanswered second-quarter points on the way to a 40-16 romp over the Esks.

"The last time in Saskatchewan, we threw the ball on the ground every which way you can think of," Vaughn said matter-of-factly. "We got behind early and couldn't come back."

Not only did the Edmonton players take their lumps on the field, the Rider Nation faithful took advantage of a snowfall and pelted the Green and Gold bench with an almost endless barrage of snowballs near the end of the contest.

THAT'S A GOOD THING

"It would be good to have that first round of the playoffs right here," Mitchell said. "Even when I was in Toronto, it was always tough just going into Regina. Their fans really come out and really support them. It's hard to hear in Regina, so we're going to be B.C. fans just this week."

Quarterback Jason Maas is approaching Saturday's showdown at B.C. Place a lot like Vaughn.

"Obviously, we would love it to be here," Maas said. "We have great fans and we'd like to have the game here for them. At the same time, if Saskatchewan goes in and beats B.C., they've earned it. It's been a long time since they've had a playoff game (at Taylor Field).

"It'll be an awesome atmosphere to play a game in if we have to go to Regina. We've just got to cast away those spells when we go there and come out with a win."

Regardless of where the Esks play on Nov. 7, they're going to have to win three straight games to repeat as Grey Cup champs. The winner of the western semifinal moves on to B.C. Place for a date with the Lions in the divisional final. From there the winner advances to Ottawa, where they'll meet the Eastern Division champ in the Grey Cup.

"If we can get past Saskatchewan, we've always played well in B.C.," Vaughn said.


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