Blue Buck the odds

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley was still lamenting his team's loss on Friday to the...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley was still lamenting his team's loss on Friday to the previously winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats. (Winnipeg Sun File/C. Procaylo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Thanks to a 23-year-old man named Buck Pierce, Week 10 was a wash for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Pierce, the B.C. Lions' relative unknown third-string quarterback, engineered a stirring comeback Saturday night in relief of Casey Printers and earned the Leos a 19-15 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

That meant the Bombers, Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders -- the three teams gearing up to fight for the West Division's third and final playoff spot -- all lost last week.

Bombers head coach Jim Daley described the Roughriders' loss as "huge," but he was still lamenting his team's 41-39 setback on Friday to the previously winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

'DOGFIGHT'

"We could have capitalized on it if we had won in Hamilton," Daley said. "As it is, there's three teams right in a dogfight for that playoff spot."

The Stamps are alone in third at 4-5, while the Roughriders (3-6) and Bombers (3-7) are tied for fourth. The possibility of the fourth-place team crossing over to the East Division playoffs isn't out of the question, either.

Therefore, this Sunday's meeting between the Bombers and Roughriders in the 39th annual Labour Day Classic at Taylor Field in Regina will have even more meaning than it usually does.

In team meetings on Saturday, Daley made sure to let his first-year players know that this Sunday's clash isn't just another game.

"That's exactly what we told them, that this is a special game in terms of traditional rivalries," Daley said. "It's our traditional rivalry weekend. It's a huge game -- that's why we don't stay in Regina -- and we addressed it briefly in those regards, but not to the point where it takes away the real important thing: our performance and success."

Daley also made a point of telling his rookies that the top-three teams in each division -- or four if there's a crossover -- make the playoffs.

Hey, you never know.

"If you're used to a situation where only the first-place team makes the playoffs, like in the NFL or in college, then this is foreign to you," Daley said. "So I just addressed that, and then I said, 'Now let's leave it. Understand that those are the possibilities, but they don't do anything or mean anything if we don't have success.' "

Success is something the Bombers were expected to have on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium, but Tiger-Cats quarterback Danny McManus chewed up the Winnipeg defence and spit it out.

And Daley, believe it or not, said losing to the Tiger-Cats may have been a good thing, because it almost guarantees that the Bombers won't take the Roughriders, who have lost five in a row, lightly.

"It probably helps us as we prepare for this week, because the shocking reality is driven home by something more than verbiage from a coach," he said.

A win this Sunday would give Winnipeg some big momentum going into the second annual Banjo Bowl -- a rematch with the 'Riders at home -- on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Daley, however, doesn't want his players thinking that far ahead.

"It is not a series. Don't view it as a series," Daley told his troops. "That just takes your concentration away from where it's gotta be. It's one game. Sunday."

Saskatchewan leads the Labour Day Classic series 20-18, but Winnipeg has won three of the last four grudge matches, including a 17-4 triumph last September.

The 'Riders hammered the Bombers 42-15 in the season-opener for both teams June 25.


Videos

Photos