Blue can't catch a break

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

MONTREAL -- By the time the Winnipeg Blue Bombers landed in Quebec yesterday, they had already taken two serious blows this week.

The Calgary Stampeders won on Thursday. Bam!

Then the Saskatchewan Roughriders won on Friday. Pow!

The Montreal Alouettes (5-6) can deliver the knockout punch today when they entertain the Bombers (4-9) at Molson Stadium (noon, RDS/CJOB).

Winnipeg can't be officially eliminated from playoff contention today since Calgary and Saskatchewan are both 7-6, but the post-season is a speck on the horizon -- and the Bombers have been going in reverse this week without even playing.

"Things haven't been going our way, no," downtrodden Bombers slotback Milt Stegall admitted yesterday at the team hotel. "The other teams, I tried to talk to them. I gave 'em a couple extra dollars, but it's not working. It's tough on us.

"But regardless, you have to go out there and play hard. We're not mathematically out of it, but we're close to it. That shouldn't affect the way we go out there and play."

FIRST ROAD VICTORY

The Bombers are coming off their first road victory of the season, a 37-21 win last Friday in Ottawa, while the Alouettes fell 27-26 to the B.C. Lions last Saturday.

In addition, the Bombers beat the Als 51-46 in the first meeting between the teams back in July at Canad Inns Stadium.

That, along with the return of defensive tackle Doug Brown, is about the only thing the Bombers will have going for them today.

The Alouettes' revamped defence, which they changed after the loss to the Bombers, is starting to find its groove, and their offence remains one of the finest in the league.

ALL BUT OUT

On the other hand, the Bombers' first bye week of the season starts tomorrow. Combine that with a team that is all but out of playoff contention, and, well "It could get ugly early," Stegall said. "The next thing you know they're smashing us, and then guys are really thinking about going home."

The Alouettes are four points behind the East Division-leading Toronto Argonauts, but they have a game in hand. That, combined with an 18-10 win over the Argos last month, means the Als now control their own destiny.

"Our goal remains to take first place in the East, and it's an attainable goal," head coach Don Matthews said. "We're at home, we're healthy, we're well prepared, we had great energy all week, and we need to go out and play our best game.

"We understand that if we don't take care of our business, Winnipeg is capable of beating us. They've done that."

Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn would love to do it once again to prove last time wasn't a fluke.

"It's like a pride thing," Glenn said. "That comes into play when you're going on the road against a team that you beat last time -- and the way that you beat them.

"You beat them by taking their defence out of what they'd been doing for numerous years. It's one of those things where you want to go in and you want to duplicate it."

Montreal has gotten away from its high-risk-high-reward defensive style, which featured lots of blitzing with smaller, quicker players. Matthews is now beefing up his defence with bigger, more powerful players and laying back a little more.

A good example of that evolution is at defensive end, where 6-foot-2, 230-pound Marc Megna was released and eventually replaced by 6-foot-5, 295-pound Mark Word.

"We now are trying to get to the point where we win a one-on-one battle and make a play," Matthews said.

Bombers head coach Jim Daley admitted that he doesn't know exactly what to expect today from the Als' defence, which sacked Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson seven times last week.


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