On the Cup's doorstep

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

WEST FINAL 2002

Milt Stegall was out with broken ribs. Charles Roberts broke a collarbone on the first series. And the Bombers fell behind, 32-6, to Edmonton.

Other than that, it was a good day for the Blue and Gold.

Led by quarterback Khari Jones, the Bombers made it a game, but lost 33-30, allowing the Eskimos to reach the Grey Cup game as the home team, one of just two times that's happened in 22 years.

Their challenge today: prevent Toronto from doing the same.

EAST FINAL 2001

The last time the Bombers hosted a division final, they forged a 28-13 win over Hamilton, grabbing the James Dixon Trophy as East champs.

Khari Jones completed just nine passes, but two were for touchdowns: bombs to Milt Stegall and Arland Bruce III.

Charles Roberts produced 176 all-purpose yards, Juran Bolden returned an interception 54 yards for the game-clinching major and the Winnipeg defence stuffed Hamilton on a late goal-line stand.

Some similar names and themes to this year's team, to be sure.

EAST FINAL 2000

The day Montreal's Ed Philion became Public Enemy No. 1 for Bomber fans.

The Als D-lineman twice delivered questionable hits on Khari Jones, and the Bomber pivot wasn't the same as Winnipeg frittered away a 13-0 lead and lost, 35-24.

"I'm not happy just getting to this point," a disappointed Milt Stegall said. "If you start getting happy, this is all you're going to get. We won a playoff game, but big deal."

One suspects Stegall would feel the same way should the Bombers fail to get past Toronto today.

EAST FINAL 1994

One of the all-time heartbreakers in Bomber history.

Hosting the Baltimore Stallions after a stellar 13-5 season, the Bombers were grinding out what looked to be a fourth trip to the Grey Cup in five years. With receiver Gerald Wilcox open in the end zone for a late, game-winning touchdown, Matt Dunigan threw a pass that hit the crossbar, and Winnipeg's Cup dream bounced to the frozen turf.

"That was one of the hardest losses in my life," then-head coach Cal Murphy was still saying, half a decade later.

The only current Bomber on that team, kicker Troy Westwood, made nine of 10 field goal attempts that playoff season (the Bombers played a semifinal, too, because there were six teams in the division).

EAST FINAL 1993

Winnipeg in first place, with a 14-4 mark. Hamilton next, at 6-12.

Such was the weak-kneed state of the CFL East, 14 years ago. So the Bombers rolled to the Grey Cup game without breaking a sweat, right?

Not quite.

Thanks to an achilles tendon injury to quarterback Matt Dunigan, Sam Garza called the signals for the Winnipeg offence, and the results had Bomber fans chewing their finger nails through a 20-19 win, not to mention a loss to Edmonton in the Grey Cup.

FYI, Troy Westwood went a perfect seven-for-seven in the playoffs, capping a year in which he hit better than 80% of his field goals, a career high.


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