'Pure pressure'

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

Doug Brown conducted interviews while lying on his back on a loveseat inside the Chairman's Lounge, his long legs dangling over one arm and his well-chosen words dangling in the air.

Winnipeg's all-star defensive tackle was obviously relaxed on the eve of this afternoon's CFL Eastern semifinal versus the Montreal Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium.

"It's a game you look forward to just because of the significance of it," said the 6-foot-8, 291-pound veteran. "There's always the lulls and the doldrums during the regular season where it's sometimes hard to see the value of a game and there's nothing more clearcut and transparent than playoff games because of the dire consequences of failure in them."

Lose and you go home to face another winter of scrutiny.

"It's really a situation where you should see the best faces of every team and the best ability showcased," Brown said. "That's why it's such a challenge -- because you get those two different animals playing against each other. And it's an environment where the best team should always win."

Although the Blue Bombers are seven-point favourites, the Als represented the East in the last two Grey Cups.

"Montreal is perennially a very successful team in the playoffs," Brown said. "This is an environment that they are very comfortable and capable in. We need to step up and respond accordingly because it's a completely different animal than the regular season and that's why those records don't matter any more because it's a fresh start because it's all new."

BETTER TEAM

Today's winner will advance to the East Final against the first-place Argonauts in Toronto next Sunday.

Though the Bombers lost last year's semifinal to the Argos in Toronto, they believe they're a better team this go-round.

"Last year, we thought we were (good enough) and obviously we were not," said head coach Doug Berry. "This year, once again, here we are and we think we're good enough to go to the next game. It's our job to go out and prove that we've advanced enough to go out and get to at least the next step."

Winnipeg finished second in the East with a 10-7-1 record while Montreal was third at 8-10.

"I honestly believe it's a lot more pressure on you playing at home, whether it's a semifinal game or a division championship game in front of your home fans, and the underdogs are in there to beat you," said Als head coach/GM Jim Popp. "(The home team) feels they have a lot more to lose than the team that's coming in, that people don't give a chance to. And that's a lot of pressure. It's pure pressure."

The Bombers also need to beat the Birds a fourth straight time.

"We are due," said Montreal defensive tackle Eric Wilson. "We even heard Doug Berry talk about it last week. He's like, 'Man, to beat a team three times in a row,' he goes, 'our luck's running out.'"

But the Bombers have proven they can beat the Als.

"We feel as though we have the team that can get to the Grey Cup and possibly compete for a championship," said Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn. "We want to try to get it done and the first step is (today) against Montreal."

But yes, it is do-or-die.

"Being in our hometown, we expect to win," said Bomber cornerback Juran Bolden. "I mean, that's what you guys want to hear. We've got to do what we're supposed to do and anything less than a win is unnn-civilized."


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