They better Blink

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Two teams enter, one squad leaves with its first victory. Unless they tie.

For Winnipeg, it is almost a must-win game even this early in the season when it plays host to the winless Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium tonight (7:30). Lose and the Blue Bombers drop to 0-3 with Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto the next three opponents on their CFL schedule. So, the possibility of a nightmarish 0-6 looms.

Although the Stamps were beaten in their only game thus far, they did play the reigning Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts tough. In fact, it was only some untimely turnovers that prevented them from posting an upset victory last week. The Bombers, meanwhile, are coming off their second straight beating, losing 27-8 to Edmonton at home last week.

Both sides are in rebuilding phases, hoping new quarterbacks can lead them. The Bombers, in fact, will be starting a second-stringer Tee Martin as Kevin Glenn is out with a high ankle sprain. Calgary offered Henry Burris a saddleful of cash to lasso him from Saskatchewan, which sent ex-Bomber QB Khari Jones on his way to eventual oblivion. And Burris is expected to become the Cowtown Messiah.

The Bombers are still determined to establish an identity. So, for that matter, are the Stamps. Here's a closer look at tonight's tilt:

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Winnipeg RB Charles Roberts, No. 1

The Winnipeg fortunes turn on the scatback known as 'Blink.' And the conclusive evidence came in the first two outings when Roberts was held to 31 yards rushing last time out and a paltry 15 in the season-opener. The Bombers were crushed in both. For Tee Martin to have any success at all, Winnipeg must establish its ground game. On the other hand, the Bombers are 17-1 when Roberts eclipses the century mark in rushing yardage.

REMEMBER WHEN ...

The Bombers could have eliminated Calgary from the 2001 playoffs in the last game of the regular season? But the Stamps won 22-15, then went on to beat the Bombers 27-19 in the Grey Cup and Winnipeg has never recovered.

KICKOFF

7:30 p.m., TV/RADIO: TSN (local blackout in effect)/CJOB.

THE LINE

Calgary favoured by 3.5 points.

ALL-TIME SERIES

Calgary leads 88-84, with one overtime loss.

LAST MEETING

Winnipeg defeated the Stampeders 37-16 in the last game of the 2004 season at Canad Inns Stadium. In fact, it was the last time the Bombers actually won a game, either in the regular or exhibition season.

QUIRKY FACT

Calgary quarterback Henry Burris failed to beat the Bombers in three tries when he was at the helm of the Saskatchewan Roughriders last year.

FINAL SAY

"Airlift isn't the answer but sometimes, you have no choice."

-- Bomber head coach Jim Daley, who will dress four players who were airlifted into Winnipeg just last week (two O-linemen, a DB and a receiver).


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