Team of destiny?

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

It has truly been a year of the unexpected for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Who could have predicted they would be 5-2 before the August long weekend and would have one miracle comeback and a defensive shutout included in their list of achievements?

When last we saw the Bombers on home turf, they were in the process of coming back to Earth.

For the second time in the young season they stuck with the vaunted Montreal Alouettes for one half and then got blown out in the final 30 minutes.

A humbling loss to the Als back on July 15 in what was billed as a first-place battle left many local fans thinking their team was indeed improved, but not quite ready to take the next step.

Playoff contender, yes. Grey Cup contender, maybe not.

Much has changed in the two short weeks since that game.

The Bombers, led by coach of the year favourite Doug Berry, Miracle Milt Stegall, quarterback Kevin Glenn, running back Charles Roberts and coach Greg Marshall's punishing defence, have recaptured the imagination of the city.

They got back on the winning track with one of the most memorable moments in team history -- Stegall's 100-yard Hail Mary reception that beat the stunned Edmonton Eskimos and wound up on highlight reels across the continent.

The Stegall play was, and still is, the talk of the province, but the rest of the team got some tongues wagging with a dominating performance against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week.

The Bombers were in complete control in all facets of the game while cruising to a 29-0 drubbing of the Ticats, who pay a return visit to Canad Inns Stadium Friday.

They showed the Tabbies who was boss and did so with ease. There was no need for any late-game heroics, except when the paramedics were called in to revive the comatose Tiger-Cats after the contest.

The Bombers showed the rest of the CFL that they mean business and will indeed be a Grey Cup contender if they can just overcome a stumbling block known as Don Matthews and his Alouettes.

That remains a big if.

The only times this season that the Bombers have looked like anything but a contender were the second halves of the Alouettes games and it will take a complete 60-minute performance to get over that Montreal mountain.

It's starting to look like they might have it in them.

As we mentioned before, Berry is an obvious candidate for coach of the year at this point, but there are many other standouts.

Stegall, 36, is playing like a 25-year-old and is arguably the CFL's most outstanding player to this point. Barrin Simpson is the heart of the best defence in the country and could be on his way to a league honour in the post-season. Roberts and Glenn are among the best at their positions as well.

Defensive genius Marshall is well on his way to securing a head coaching job somewhere else next year. Like Hamilton, for instance.

Confidence, momentum

Individual kudos aside, the biggest things the Bombers have on their side are newfound confidence and momentum.

When things happen like the miracle finish in Edmonton and the defence earns the club's first shutout in 18 years, you start to throw out a term like "team of destiny."

It's a cliche to be sure, but you can bet there are a few more believers in that kind of karma than there were two weeks ago.

The bottom line is this is a sound football team that seems to be getting better all the time and it now has the schedule in its favour.

The Bombers play their next three games at home and go nowhere further than Regina for the Labour Day Classic between now and Sept. 15.

It's not at all out of the realm of possibility that they will be 7-2 at the midway point of the season and not even the Amazing Kreskin could have predicted that at the beginning of the year.


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