Playoff atmosphere

Bomber QB Kevin Glenn goes over details for today's game with offensive co-ordinator Ron Lancaster...

Bomber QB Kevin Glenn goes over details for today's game with offensive co-ordinator Ron Lancaster Jr., yesterday at the Stadium. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

The playoff future is now.

Winnipeg plays host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium tonight in a CFL contest that will have far-reaching post-season implications for both sides.

Beat the 'Cats and the Blue Bombers will have renewed hope for cashing playoff cheques this season. Lose and the playoff picture dims dramatically.

"This is as big as it gets for us right now," recently-arrived Bomber defensive lineman Joe Fleming said yesterday. "It's a huge game against a team that's in a very tough playoff situation themselves. So, we need to step up and rise to the occasion here and just play with a great amount of intensity and understand the implications.

"This is a playoff game."

UPSET VICTORY

The Tabbies come to town off a 30-27 upset victory over the Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos last week. They sport a 6-7-1 record and sole possession of third place in the East. The Bombers are stumbling home after suffering back-to-back blowouts in Montreal and B.C. Winnipeg has dropped to fourth in the West with a 6-9 record and are even two points out of a crossover playoff spot (The Bombers would have to finish ahead of the third-place team in the East in points to cross over).

"As big a game as that was against Edmonton, it just made this game even bigger," said Hamilton head coach Greg Marshall. "We can really put ourselves in a great situation. If we beat Winnipeg (tonight), they're going to have a very, very difficult time getting into the playoffs, or beating us out for a playoff spot.

"We know how important this game is for us. We could put ourselves in the driver's seat as far as playoff position in regards to the West crossover and distance ourselves from (fourth-place) Ottawa."

Even if the Bombers do win, they will still have to battle for a post-season appearance down the stretch.

"Unfortunately, we've put ourselves into this situation where it is a huge game where we need to win out to control our own playoff hopes," said veteran Winnipeg tackle Dave Mudge.

Following tonight's match, the Bombers will close out the 2004 campaign with games against the Eskimos in Edmonton and Calgary at home.

But the Bombers will have to win with a quarterback, Kevin Glenn, who did not practise all week due to a sore right shoulder.

"I'm all right," Glenn assured. "I'll be playing (tonight)."

Winnipeg head coach Jim Daley confirmed that Glenn will start, adding that resting Glenn was just precautionary.

STAY ALIVE

"It's one of the biggest games of the year," said Glenn, who completed 15 of 27 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns, with one pick, in the loss to the Leos last week. "We've got to get this one to stay alive for the playoffs. Both teams are fighting to get in and once we get in between the lines, we'll compete and see what happens."

Bomber fullback Scott Regimbald, who was acquired from Calgary along with safety Wes Lysack and Fleming, has gone from playing for pride to battling for playoff pay.

"I'll be excited to see the crowd out here," he said. "It should be a playoff atmosphere as we try to make this run. This is the most important game of the season right now. We have to win this game. So, you're going to see some guys flying around, hungry for a win, hungry for that playoff spot."


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