Green and cold

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- The Edmonton Eskimos have to stop playing with fire.

After the first two regular-season games, the club has only scored six total points in the first half.

Fortunately for the Green and Gold, they were able to overcome a nine-point Calgary lead at halftime last week.

But the odds of pulling off that trick on a regular basis are anything but good. In fact, only three times in the last three seasons has Edmonton pulled a win out of the fire by coming back from a first half deficit.

For those keeping precise records, the team is 3-14 during that stretch when trailing after 30 minutes.

And that's why head coach Danny Maciocia is adamant his club needs to come out strong tonight when the Eskimos meet the host Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"It's extremely important," said the coach.

"Greg Marshall (Winnipeg's defensive co-ordinator) is going to have them ready to go and we have to match their intensity."

Making matters even more important for the defending Grey Cup champions is the fact Winnipeg has scored a touchdown on their opening drive in each of their first two games this year and has held the halftime lead in both contests.

Here are three other keys to tonight's game:

1. Win the battle with the Bombers' tough defensive line:

Quarterback Ricky Ray is always the key to the Eskimos offence, but he can't do anything from his backside. The Bombers' No.-1 ranked defensive line is getting praise across the West for leading the league in sacks -- but Edmonton's offensive line is getting tired of hearing it.

"If we just go out there and play our game, it should be a no-brainer and no problem (winning the battle with Winnipeg's D-line)," said Edmonton left tackle Joe McGrath. It's the most important matchup of the game.

2. Crack Winnipeg's secondary: The Bombers are one of just two teams in the league that hasn't allowed a touchdown through the air. Granted, the Bombers' secondary practically got a free pass against Toronto quarterback Spergon Wynn last week, but they get full praise for keeping Anthony Calvillo's receivers out of the end zone in Week 1.

3. Eliminate costly mental and undisciplined mistakes:

"I read that we have thrown for a ton of yards, but I know that we haven't scored that many points and there is a reason for that: penalties and turnovers," said Maciocia.

"Those are two facets of the game that we need to get better at."


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