Bombers get reprieve

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Win two and they are indeed in the playoffs.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, however, will have to win the first one in Edmonton on Sunday, where the Commonwealth Stadium's natural grass has swallowed them like quicksand in recent seasons.

But at least the Bombers have a much more positive outlook now than they had after losing to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats just before last week's bye. Because Saskatchewan defeated the Eskimos on Sunday, the Bombers can still beat out Edmonton for third place in the CFL West with two straight victories.

"It's basically do-or-die now," Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn said yesterday. "We're in control 100% of our destiny so, we've got to get this win.

"It's the CFL. On any given Sunday, something can happen so, we've just got to worry about taking care of Edmonton first, then Calgary."

The Saskatchewan triumph was like a reprieve from the governor.

"(The Roughriders) gave us another breath, now we've just got to take advantage of it," said kick returner Keith Stokes. "They've given us life right now and we've got to go out there and seize the moment."

And the energy that was sapped from the Bombers by the Hamilton loss has been replaced by an air of optimism in the locker-room.

"All we can do is play our best and control our own destiny and that's a good feeling to have right about now," said linebacker Terry Ray. "Everybody's fresh right off the break. Everybody's energized and confident and we've got enough time to prepare for this team. It's a pretty good feeling and a pretty good atmosphere. Everybody's really getting excited."

But not everyone was that thrilled about the Edmonton loss.

"I wasn't jumping up and down or anything because I knew we had to go into Edmonton and win no matter what happened, and this also puts them into more of a foul mood," said Bombers' GM Brendan Taman. "But I hope we can do it."

"It's not going to be easy, it never is," said Ray, an ex-Eskimo who is doubtful for Sunday's game due to injury. "But the opportunity is there. I mean, how could you not be excited and happy for the chance to go out there regardless of the circumstances and the situation and have to go play at a tough place and all that other stuff? We beat them before; we beat them here. We've got to go out there and play that kind of game in their park."

The reigning Grey Cup champions are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 33 years.

"Edmonton's desperate because they've got to win to get in, too," Glenn said. "They have to get in to defend their championship. They're going to be hungry -- playing in front of their hometown crowd and the last time we played there, we lost. So, it's going to be a good game. We're going to have to come in very, very ready to go."

The Eskies will also be reeling after Saskatchewan ravaged them 40-16.

"I don't think we can anticipate whether they're down or up," said Winnipeg head coach Jim Daley. "They will play hard at home. Their playoff lives are on the line. I would expect them to be very, very well-prepared and come out shooting with all weapons.

"Win (two), we're in. Don't win, we're out. That's all you can ask for as a team. So, we're very, very fortunate. It's a very strong relief that we're in this situation, that we don't have to worry about any help."


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