Bombers playing for pride

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:33 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The worst part of being eliminated from the CFL playoffs in Week 16 is that the Blue Bombers still have two games to play with little on the line.

“The last two weeks, we play for pride,” offensive lineman Steve Morley said after Winnipeg was battered 27-8 by the Toronto Argonauts in their own ballpark Saturday. “I’m not sure what the coach’s philosophy is going to be, but I would assume that we’re going to keep going 100% full ahead and play for the city and play for the fans who are still believing in us and following us.”

Morley was still trying to get his head around the fact that such a promising club only won four games this season.

“Toronto had three wins last year, and now they’re in the playoffs, right?” he said. “You’ve gotta stay positive and keep thinking it’s going to get better. That’s what I’m doing.”

But all that losing took a toll.

“At the beginning of the year, everyone’s kind of on a high, right?” Morley said. “You come in with a fresh start. The losses start adding up, and you see the morale on the team kind of not there.”

Losing breeds losing.

“All year, in different phases, we showed we are capable of competing and if there’s a way to lose a game, we discovered it this year,” said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. “It’s hard. It’s very discouraging. As a football player, you always want to have that in front of you that you have an opportunity to compete in the post-season and to have two games to go and realize that it is not even a possibility any more, it’s very deflating.

“But we have no choice. You’re professional, you’ve got two games left, one on the road, then finish off at home. We just have to prepare as if you would if you still had that chance. It’s our job, right? And we’re paid to do this, regardless of whether there’s a light in the tunnel or not. We’re paid to play football and we haven’t been doing that very well and that’s why we’ve put ourselves into this situation.”

The Bombers play the surging Eskimos in Edmonton this Saturday, then host the Calgary Stampeders the following week. Some players will be competing for their jobs next year while some might just be playing out the string here.

“There’s a great room of guys in here and, I think, an excellent coaching staff,” said Brown. “But it’s just not working right now. And that’s really maddening, just trying to figure what the problem is.”

Most of the Bombers plan to suck it up the rest of the way.

“I don’t know how guys feel but, if it don’t hurt, then you don’t need to be here,” said cornerback Jovon Johnson. “It hurts me a lot but, at the same time, I’m going to go out and still perform these last two games. It’s all about your pride now. At the end of the day, being out of the playoffs, it sucks. It’s the second year in a row for me so I’m kind of getting tired of it …

“I think we’re just limited to what we can do. Sometimes, our offence moves the ball but sometimes they’re limited to where they want to go. They want to do different things but they can’t. Defensively, we’re out there playing our hearts out and then, the special teams gives up a big play. It’s just a matter of us putting all three phases together to be successful.”


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