Bombers still team to beat: Als' Bowman

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:24 AM ET

MONTREAL - So which one is the team to beat: the first-place squad or the two-time defending Grey Cup champs?

Naturally, it depends on whom you ask.

The East Division-leading Bombers, for the most part, still bow down to the Alouettes, who have owned them over the years and have won the last two Grey Cups. There has been an asterisk next to Winnipeg’s record all season because they hadn’t yet played Montreal.

So now it’s time for the Bombers to prove if they’re contenders or pretenders.

“They’re the two-time defending champions,” Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown said Saturday. “It’s 10 games into the season, so it’s more important to see who’s in first place at the end of the year than it is 10 games in.

“You have to pay respects to the champion. You gotta earn that respect from them.”

The Bombers haven’t beaten the Alouettes in Montreal since Oct. 26, 2008, when they eked out a 24-23 triumph. That’s also the last time Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo lost to the Bombers. He has won six straight starts against the Blue and Gold and is 8-1 since 2007, throwing 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions during that span.

Despite his team’s dominance over the years, Montreal defensive end John Bowman believes the Bombers are the top dogs in the East.

“We won two Grey Cups in a row, but that’s two years ago and last year, so they’re the team to beat,” Bowman said.

Calvillo has plenty of respect for the Bomber defence, which leads the CFL in most statistical categories but has struggled lately.

“Their defence is always tough,” he said. “It’s not different than it was last year. It was tough to go against that defence, but right now they’re playing with so much confidence because they’re winning and it just takes them to a different level.”

Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice still goes by the notion that if you’re going to be the best you have to beat the best.

“Anybody who talks about the East, they talk about Montreal,” LaPolice said. “I think they’ve won eight of the last 11 Eastern finals, so that’s always the team you want to benchmark.

“This is what we said as an organization: If we want to be better, we have to beat the good teams in the league and this is certainly one of them.”


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