TORONTO -- Maybe the change in names will help their fortunes here.
The Blue Bombers have lost so often at the SkyDome in the past that it had become known as SkyDoom in Winnipeg circles. But now it's the Rogers Centre and, even if it is the same place with the retractable roof, the Bombers can only hope to erase the ghosts of SkyDooms past.
And what better time to do it? Although Winnipeg remains in the West Division cellar at 1-4, they can catch the 2-3 Calgary Stampeders and make a move on the 3-3 Saskatchewan Roughriders with a victory this afternoon. Both teams suffered losses on the weekend to keep Winnipeg in the playoff race despite its woeful 1-4 start. Not only that, but a crossover playoff spot is still a reality.
But they will have to do it against the reigning Grey Cup champs on their own turf, a team coming off a solid 36-24 triumph over the Montreal Alouettes. But the Bombers hope to take advantage of a tired squad that has only had three days of rest and spent 90 minutes under the hot sun for their final preps in Mississauga, Ont., yesterday.
However, should the Bombers lose and fall to 1-5, the future would not look as rosy. They will have to play the Stamps on a short week of their own and the possibility of a 1-6 start could then become a reality.
Here's a closer look at this afternoon's encounter:
Keep an eye on Toronto QB Damon Allen, No. 9
This grampa is showing no signs of aging despite having just celebrated his 42nd birthday. He headed into Toronto's doubleheader weekend with an efficiency rating off 101.7%, second only to B.C.'s Dave Dickenson's 112.9%. And the Amazing Allen may even have improved on that rating after he tortured the Alouettes 36-24 on Thursday. And he can still perform that Houdini act in the backfield, leaving defenders clutching air.
Bombers kick returner Keith Stokes returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the first half the last time these two teams met? Arland Bruce III had just returned a punt 77 yards for a TD with eight seconds left on the clock to give Toronto a 27-13 lead. The return was an instant momentum-turner for the Bombers who out-scored the Argos 24-7 in the second half.
Winnipeg leads 41-38 with two ties since 1961.
The Bombers avenged a 14-6 loss to Toronto by beating the Argos 44-34 in a wild one in Winnipeg. The Bombers rebounded from a 20-3 deficit to record their third straight victory.
Argo slotback R. Jay Soward has caught a grand total of 22 passes but seven of them went for touchdowns. And all seven of those were scored against western teams, including at least one versus all five.
The final say
"Right now, they're just another team in the league, that's how we've got to look at it. I don't see them as the Grey Cup champs. The Grey Cup has yet to be played this year; they're the Grey Cup champs from last year."
-- Bombers defensive end Tom Canada on facing the reigning Grey Cup champion Argonauts