Bombers D turns tables on Boatmen

PAUL FRIESEN, SPORTS COLUMNIST

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

TORONTO -- It didn't take long for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to prove Toronto linebacker Kevin Eiben wrong.

Less than three minutes into the second quarter of yesterday's East semifinal, the Bombers had scored 11 points -- one more than Eiben boldly predicted they'd manage against his team.

"That was a good feeling," rookie Winnipeg lineman Kyle Koch said. "We looked up and, 'Huh, 11-1. So much for 10.' "

All week, members of the Bomber offence downplayed the significance of Eiben's prediction, not wanting to get into a war of words.

If they saw his words as a putdown, they didn't let on.

It turns out the Bomber defence, though, used the comments for some motivation of their own, turning in a smothering effort in a 19-9 victory that launched Winnipeg into next Sunday's CFL championship.

"I guess it's only fitting that we decided to flip it around and make sure their offence didn't score 10," linebacker Cam Hall said. "You don't want to come out and give a team a reason to play well. They gave us a reason to play well, not to mention the severity of the game. We just came out and played as tough as we could."

Nobody played tougher than defensive tackle Jerome Haywood, who sacked Argos quarterback Michael Bishop, recovered a fumble and blocked a Noel Prefontaine field goal attempt -- with his face mask.

Haywood wasn't crediting Eiben for adding fuel to the fire. In fact, No. 99 seemed to have some respect for the confidence shown by the Argos' leading tackler on the season.

"We all think that," Haywood said. "He just had the balls to say it."

But was he lacking in brains?

Bomber kicker Troy Westwood thinks so.

"Michael Bishop and Kevin Eiben made big mistakes," Westwood said. "Michael Bishop called out our defence, wishing for them (instead of Montreal). And Kevin Eiben challenged guys like Milt Stegall, Kevin Glenn and Charlie Roberts. I wouldn't do that."

Bomber GM Brendan Taman was glad he did.

"They were talking crap all week," Taman said. "And big-mouth Belli (Adriano) talks about five points. Sure it did (play a role). Absolutely. But we're not going to react to it. We're not that dumb."

Others, like Stegall, continued to insist Eiben's barb had no bearing on the game.

"Even if we hadn't scored more than 10, we would have won the game," Stegall said. "I didn't think it was a big deal that he said that. We didn't need that as a motivating factor."


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