Blue need wake-up call

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

The Blue Bomber players are telling us one thing about tonight's game, but I choose to believe another.

It's just another game, Kevin Glenn and Milt Stegall tried telling me yesterday. The biggest game only because it's the next game.

I don't buy it.

This team's play the last two weeks has raised more questions than it has provided answers.

It's almost as if the Bombers have become complacent.

Winning the CFL East this year isn't proving to be the enormous challenge it should be. The Bombers are the only team above .500, and with a five-point lead on Montreal and Toronto they're not exactly being pushed.

Their recent play against the Argos and Ticats shows it. And is that the way to go into the last third of the season?

If this team has designs on sending Stegall off into the sunset with not only a Grey Cup appearance, but a ring, it had better saddle up the ponies and get its boots on tight.

Because after sleepwalking through the first half in a loss to Toronto two weeks ago, then looking dozy for the better part of 60 minutes in a squeaker over the last-place Ticats last weekend, the Bombers look like they need a wake-up call.

Hello, B.C. Lions.

This is a team that could stir Rip Van Winkle from his slumber.

The Lions have lost two quarterbacks, and they're 9-3-1. Wally Buono has done a better salvage job than Direct Auto.

Meanwhile, the B.C. defence is playing just like its co-ordinator, Dave Ritchie -- big and grumpy. These guys produce more turnovers than Safeway.

And don't get me started on the special teams, where the Lions have not only the league's best return game, but a kicker who connects on more than 80% of his field goals and averages more than 45 yards per punt.

OK, so Paul McCallum's hurt. Buono will probably produce a guy who hits 90% of his field goals and averages 48 yards per punt tonight. That's just the way the Lions are -- good and deep.

So, yeah, this will be a wake-up call and a measuring stick, rolled into one.

We'll find out if the Bombers have regressed since they took two points from the Lions back in Week 7, or if they can raise their play to B.C.'s level the way they lowered it to Hamilton's.

"It'll become important if we meet them again," head coach Doug Berry said.

There's only one other time and place these two can meet this year, and a blowout tonight could leave bruises that are still showing Nov. 25.

Fans are looking for evidence this team has a shot at the whole shebang. Tonight, the Bombers will provide a whack of it.

Just another game, eh?

"It's not the Grey Cup," Glenn said. "It's not a playoff game. It's the next regular season game. This game is just as important as the game last week. And it's going to be just as important as the game we're going to play after this, against Calgary."

Of course that's the way players have to approach it. Deal with what's directly in front of you.

The rest of us, though, can look at the big picture.

Actually, Glen and Stegall are right about one thing: that comfortable spot the Bombers occupy in first place doesn't come with a long-term lease.

As Glenn so aptly put it: "A cushion can turn into a brick pretty quick in the CFL."

A couple losses and this team could suddenly be doing more than sitting on bricks, if you know what I mean.

It's all just an affirmation of what we were saying in this space a week ago: this is the time of year we find out how good teams really are.

Until now it's been window dressing.


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