Bouncing back at home is key

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Not only have the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their last three outings on home turf but opponents have been kicking sand in their faces.

B.C. 32 Winnipeg 5. Hamilton 26 Winnipeg 11. Montreal 44 Winnipeg 16.

Sure, the Bombers have been ravaged by injuries but those scores in front of their hometown fans have been downright mortifying.

"For sure, if anyone came over to my house and slept with my wife, yeah, that would be embarrassing," Bomber offensive lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek said yesterday. "That's not acceptable. This isn't the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of last year, this is a new team. We're a good team. Last year when we lost at home, it was, 'Oh, we lost at home, we can't do that.' But this year, it's a slap in the face. You can't come in and expect to take just anything from us here."

Well, a much-healthier Toronto team will be trying to do just that when they come to town for a key CFL contest at Canad Inns Stadium tonight (7 p.m.). And the Bombers will still be without injured starting quarterback Kevin Glenn (knee) and likely without veteran slotback Milt Stegall (ribs) and defensive backs Stanford Samuels (ankle) and Anthony Malbrough (knee).

"Injuries or no injuries, you can't let someone come into your own house and beat ya," Abou-Mechrek insisted. "You invite someone over for a barbecue, you run the barbecue. You wouldn't come over to my house and be working my grill because that's my grill. Same thing here."

Second-string quarterback Mike Quinn will start his second straight match for Winnipeg.

"Excuses, excuses, excuses, we need to get back to what we were doing at the beginning of the year, whether it's the first-, second-, third- or fourth-string quarterback, or if we're playing D-linemen at tackle and you're playing DBs at receiver," Abou-Mechrek said. "It's a short roster in the CFL and you've got to do what you've got to do to win."

Winnipeg actually boasts a better record on the road, 3-1, than at home, 2-3.

"None of us are happy about the fact that our road record is vastly superior to what we're doing at home and you can't be successful in this league if you can't win at home," said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. "That's something we really need to take care of and that's something that we should really take for granted -- that we're going to win here. That's paramount, regardless of what marquee players or starters are out right now. We just need to defend our turf and get back to what needs to be done and we'll be successful the rest of the season."

Winnipeg heads into the game in second spot in the CFL East at 5-4 but is just two points up on the Argos, 4-5.

"We've got to get back on top," said Abou-Mechrek. "It's a huge game. It's a battle for second place and a home playoff game."

The Argos are three-point favourites.

"Everybody's picking Toronto to win and I don't know why -- just because they beat Montreal," said Bomber tailback Charles Roberts. "They got lucky and played a good game at home to beat Montreal. But we've already whupped on 'em twice before and I can't see why we can't go out and finish off the sweep (tonight). They're a team we can beat, a team we match up against well."

Argo quarterback Damon Allen, who missed both previous games against Winnipeg with an injury (finger), has returned to action.

"This is an important game for us," he said. "It's against an East Division foe that has beaten us twice."


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