Panic time for Blue

Stampeders receiver Nik Lewis fights a tackle from Bombers defender Kyries Hebert on Sunday. (Sun...

Stampeders receiver Nik Lewis fights a tackle from Bombers defender Kyries Hebert on Sunday. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

CALGARY -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are officially bleeding at the worst possible time.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris returned from a shoulder injury yesterday and shredded the Bomber defence, throwing five touchdowns en route to a 38-25 thumping of the Blue and Gold.

The victory, in front of 30,897 spectators at McMahon Stadium, snapped Calgary's three-game losing streak and improved its record to 7-7-1.

The Bombers, who clinched a playoff berth on Saturday, lost their second in a row for the first time this season and have now dropped three of their last four.

Lurking

They still lead the East Division at 8-6-1, but their five-point edge over the Toronto Argonauts from nine days ago has dwindled to one with three games remaining.

The third-place Montreal Alouettes are also lurking, just three points back of Winnipeg.

The Bombers host the Stampeders on Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium, and slotback Milt Stegall didn't mince words when asked what the contest means to his team.

"This is a must-win more than any game," Stegall said in a morose Bomber locker-room. "And I'm not saying that because it's our next game. This is a must-win for us.

"We're bleeding, and you can't put a Band-Aid on it. No stitches or nothing. We gotta get some surgery done, so we better perform some surgery next Friday, or it's going to be a problem."

The Bomber defence had been playing well recently, but it imploded yesterday with the return of Burris from a dislocated left shoulder that forced him to miss two games.

Calgary's high-octane attack exploded for 516 yards of total offence and made the Winnipeg defence look like a Pop Warner outfit.

"I can't even think of how many big plays there were," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said. "There were just way, way, way too many, and all the yards with it, it just kills any momentum you're trying to get going with special teams or offence."

For the record, Burris and Co. produced seven plays of at least 20 yards, the back breaker a 70-yard touchdown catch by Ryan Thelwell in the third quarter that gave the hosts a lead, at 24-18, they wouldn't relinquish.

"We just gotta step up, man," middle linebacker Barrin Simpson said in a post-game interview that sounded more like a sermon. "We gotta realize that it's crunch time. You can't play at the same level you played at all season. You gotta take it up a notch. And that's the problem.

"At this point of the season it's a playoff-type atmosphere. You gotta take your game to the next level. The way we played in the first two-thirds of the season, it's got to go up another level. It's playoff time. It's crunch time, man. This is the time when we gotta step it up."

Burris completed 25 of 35 attempts for 401 yards, five scores and an interception. Jeremaine Copeland had touchdown catches of 21 and six yards, Ken-Yon Rambo had a 12-yarder, and Brett Ralph added a five-yarder in which no Bomber defender was within 20 yards of him.

Edwards excels

Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 19 of 33 passes for 349 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Stegall had a 42-yard major, the 143rd of his career, and Terrence Edwards notched a seven-yard reception for a score.

Edwards had a career-high 157 receiving yards for the Bombers, who came back from a 17-8 half-time deficit to take an 18-17 lead midway through the third.

Charles Roberts had 13 carries for 78 yards and scored on a two-yard run in the second quarter. Rob Pikula booted a 12-yard field and a single on a missed 36-yard field goal attempt.

Calgary's Sandro DeAngelis added a 43-yard field goal.


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