The Winnipeg Blue Bombers went into the weekend with a 12% chance of finishing second in the CFL's East Division.
Those odds are now an even 50/50.
BOMBERS 28 STAMPS 13
The Bombers needed to win both of their remaining games and get some help. They not only got that help, but they helped themselves, too.
Running back Charles Roberts locked up the CFL's 2006 rushing title with 151 yards and a touchdown, and Milt Stegall caught his 136th career touchdown to power the Bombers to a 28-13 win over the Calgary Stampeders last night in front of an announced crowd of 30,092 chilled spectators at Canad Inns Stadium.
All Winnipeg has to do now is beat the league-leading B.C. Lions next Saturday night in Vancouver to finish second in the East and host a semifinal playoff game on Nov. 5.
The Bombers are tied with the Montreal Alouettes for second place in the East at 9-8, while the Toronto Argonauts lead the way at 10-7. Toronto and Montreal were upset at home by Saskatchewan and Edmonton, respectively, this weekend, which provided some extra incentive for the Blue and Gold last night.
"We had a little bit extra motivation, but these guys played really, really hard tonight," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said.
Because Montreal plays in Toronto next Saturday afternoon, the Bombers have to only beat the Lions to lock up second. If they lose to B.C., however, they would finish third no matter what.
The Bombers will be jacked for their clash against the Lions.
"It feels good, just to know that (a home playoff game) can happen after everything that we've been through -- the ups and downs, the good times and the bad," quarterback Kevin Glenn said.
Stegall believes securing their first home playoff game since 2003 would make everyone happy, including, oddly enough, Americans.
"That would be big not just for us, but for the organization, the whole city, the province of Manitoba and surrounding areas -- North Dakota and South Dakota also," Stegall said with a chuckle.
Glenn completed 17 of 28 passes for 201 yards and threw touchdowns tosses to Chris Brazzell (12 yards), Stegall (10) and Derick Armstrong (10).
Roberts, who needed 27 carries for his 151 yards, added a one-yard touchdown jaunt in the fourth quarter. Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds, who led Roberts by 58 yards going into the game, managed only 74 yards on 15 carries in the final game of the season for the Stamps (10-8).
Roberts now has 1,560 yards -- 19 more than Reynolds -- and the B.C. game remaining to pad the stats on his third rushing crown in the last four seasons.
The Bombers are feeling good about themselves for putting together one of their best efforts of the season just two weeks before the playoffs. Stegall said it won't mean squat, however, unless they duplicate it against the Lions.
"We have to continue it now," said Stegall, who needs two touchdowns to break the CFL record of 137. "We can't let this one performance say what we are.
"... If guys aren't pumped now, they're never going to be pumped."
Jeremaine Copeland caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Stamps quarterback Henry Burris, who completed 15 of 30 passes for only 155 yards and was intercepted by Robert Bean.