VANCOUVER -- For the oldest, wisest and most experienced Renegade, it was imperative that last week's dramatic rally finish in victory.
Now, just off the familiar shoreline of B.C., he is among those sailing Joe Paopao's ship who truly believe anything is possible.
"I can honestly say I have never been on a team that needed to win as badly as we needed that game," insisted 34-year-old receiver Yo Murphy -- one of 10 ex-Lions on Ottawa's 40-man roster -- in a discussion at B.C. Place yesterday about the 39-36 Canada Day win over the Alouettes. "Even if we had lost 33-10, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But when you get close like that, you really test your character.
"If we would have lost the game, after fighting back that hard, there would have been the thought that we can't finish. Then, the next time the coach was yelling 'we can do this,' there would have been guys thinking 'here we go again.'
"That (win) was huge. Before, when we're running around the locker room chanting 'we're going to win' and 'believe we can do it,' we're still not 100% sure we can do it. But (last Friday) we fought back until the final whistle. The guys stuck together. Now we know can do it."
Hitting a similar note in the encore performance would rate ahead of a 23-point fourth quarter rally to beat the Als on the unlikely scale.
For one, B.C. is the only team the Renegades have never beaten. After a 27-20 road victory over the defending-champion Argos on June 25, the Lions had a bye week to lick their wounds.
Tonight, the Renegades are the guests in B.C.'s first home game of the season. Expected is a crowd of 25,000-30,000, about 19,500 of which will be season-ticket holders.
And all are counting on cheering for their team in the CFL's final game -- the 2005 Grey Cup -- four months from now at B.C. Place.
"The fans of Vancouver believe we have a really good opportunity to be in that game, and to host a playoff game," Lions owner David Braley said after the team had completed its final walk-through yesterday. "That's what the football team is all about. To play every game strong, full out and provide good entertainment."
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
The Lions possess an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position. Dave Dickenson, the veteran starter, was the CFL's offensive player of the week in the season opener. Casey Printers, the 2004 league MVP, is his backup.
Lions coach Wally Buono was coy when asked yesterday how long he can keep Printers relatively happy with being on the sidelines.
"At least another week," he said.
The truth is, the Lions want to do all they can to make sure they're in position to play in the Grey Cup game -- and that means having a 1-2 punch like Dickenson and Printers.
In discussing his former players now with Ottawa, Buono took time to point out that he believes the most important people in a game are the quarterback and defensive linemen.
"The defensive lineman gets paid to pressure the quarterback," Buono said. "Quarterbacks are affected by the rush."
JACOBS TAKES BLAME
To that end, Ray Jacobs could very well become a large factor in tonight's game. Among the ex-Lions now in Ottawa (along with Murphy, Marc Pilon, Cam Legault, Jason Kralt, Matt Kellett, Dave Donaldson, Frank Cutolo, Greg Bearman and Da'Shann Austin), Jacobs is a former all-star rush end who now plays the weak-end for defensive line coach Richard Harris, another ex-Lion.
Whereas Pilon and Legault are D-linemen who wanted to come home, Jacobs admitted yesterday he never wanted to leave B.C.
He did blame himself, however, for being in the wrong place when arrested outside a well-known B.C. crackhouse, with drugs and prostitutes in his car prior to the 2004 season.
Even though the charges were dropped, Buono cut Jacobs, who was left untouched by other teams until Ottawa signed him last winter.
"It's all good now," Jacobs told reporters yesterday. "I'm not looking back, I'm looking forward."