Still kickin'?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

CALGARY -- Sean Fleming believes the Edmonton Eskimos can suddenly run the table through the rest of the season.

Despite being hammered 44-23 by the Calgary Stampeders in the annual Labour Day Classic yesterday afternoon, confidence still lives within the defending Grey Cup champs.

While that might be hard to believe for many in Eskimoland who suffered through yesterday's debacle, that's the real feeling with the veterans on this 3-7 version of the Green and Gold.

LEGITIMATE POSSIBILITY

The playoffs are still a very legitimate possibility to the battered and bruised locker-room leaders, even though they're staring at three ugly facts: they've now lost six of eight games, have yet to win on the road in five tries this season, and are now six points out of the final West Division playoff spot.

"I still think we can go 8-0 and finish off the season at 11-7," said 15-year veteran kicker Sean Fleming. "And hopefully everybody else in the locker-room believes that because that is the only way we can turn this around.

"We can't play selfish like we did today.

"We can't give up big plays like we did today."

There's no question the Esks took selfish penalties that aided the surging Calgary Stampeders on their way to the 21-point rout in front of yet another sold-out McMahon Stadium crowd on the holiday Monday.

In just the first half yesterday, the Esks took three glaring penalties to help the Stamps, including a roughing the passer call on Charles Alston when he needlessly shoved quarterback Henry Burris out of bounds.

KEPT DRIVE ALIVE

That kept Calgary's drive alive and led to Burris running 16 yards into the end zone to make it 27-13 with one second remaining in the first half.

In hindsight for the Esks, that was the most critical series of the game.

But in every corner of a dejected locker-room in the bowels of McMahon Stadium late yesterday afternoon, Fleming had teammates who also feel their playoff hopes -- and the 34-year streak of making the post-season -- aren't dead.

"I know we can definitely pull it out," said linebacker Singor Mobley.

"We just have to get on the same page and go out and play our style of football."

Added fullback Mike Maurer: "We can still turn it around.

"This week is going to be a big game.

"We got to get it turned around and play mistake-free football."

As every football fan in the province knows, the Labour Day rematch is set for Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

An Eskimo win would improve their fortunes in either the West Division race or on the East Division cross-over bid.

With the Saskatchewan Roughriders playing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday, Edmonton would pull within three points of gaining the East's final spot with a Winnipeg loss or tie, and move to within four points of Saskatchewan if they lost the game.

But Fleming believes for the ball to start rolling in the right direction it's time for perfection.

"We're not good enough of a team right now to take the penalties we are taking, to fumble the ball or give up big plays," he explained.

"We just have too many young guys on this team.

"For us to win a game, we have to play the perfect game and not give them anything."


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