Blue need win against league-best

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Four weeks and six days ago, the score was 33-14 for Montreal and the downtrodden Blue Bombers felt like they'd hit rock bottom after a third straight blowout loss.

In fact, Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown wondered aloud whether the team could even be competitive when facing such top-tier teams.

But the Bombers, who will take on the Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium this afternoon at 1:30 p.m., have since improved significantly.

The Bombers won three straight and were incensed after blowing a fourth straight victory against B.C. last week.

'Hands full'

But the question remains whether the Bombers can now be competitive against the 13-2 Alouettes, who've already clinched top spot.

"We're going to need to be (better than they were in Montreal) in order to have any success against the best team in the CFL," Brown said yesterday. "It's a hell of a challenge and it's still an opportunity for us to try to have some results that will help us in the post-season.

"We'll have our hands full but it's that time of year where, if everything's aligned right for us and we catch them on a down day, you never know what can happen.

"We have turned a bit of a corner and (today) we'll find out if this team is one of those groups of athletes that plays up to the calibre of their opponent, or whether we've already hit that crescendo and we're not capable. That will be our litmus test."

The Bombers are 6-9 but still in the playoff hunt.

"It's going to take a supreme effort that is possibly unprecedented in how we performed this year if we're going to be successful against them," Brown said.

The Als are the favourites to win the Grey Cup this year.

"They are the best team right now and we've got to play them back-to-back, and we know we've got to go through them to get to the Grey Cup," said Bomber slotback Terrence Edwards. "This is another challenge for us but we're up for the test ... We're trying to get a better seed for the playoffs, trying to get second place and have a home playoff game ...

"We don't want to wait until the end of the year and have to beat Hamilton. We want to control our own destiny."

The Bombers are battling the Ticats -- who beat the Toronto Argonauts 26-17 last night to move two points ahead of the Blue and Gold -- for second in the CFL East.

They must at least stay even with the fourth-place team in the West to be sure of a playoff berth.

"If we're playing anyone, a win would be nice for us," said centre Obby Khan. "It would give us a real shot at making the playoffs and that's what we're going for.

"We're playing every game like it's a playoff game -- as if it was do-or-die for us right now. Whether it is or isn't, it doesn't matter."

The Als have lost two games this season and speculation is backup Adrian McPherson will start or get most of the action at quarterback today.

"I believe this is a winnable game for us right now," said Winnipeg tailback Fred Reid. "I know we can play with the best team in the league. We just have to come out and not turn the ball over and minimize our mistakes."

Montreal head coach Marc Trestman has noticed a distinct difference in the Bombers recently.

"They're playing with a different sense of urgency, different sense of confidence, which is easy to see on tape," he said. "We've gotta get excited about playing. We've gotta be emotionally invested in this game and match the energy, at least early on, that we're going to see."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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