Pierce one tough Buck

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce threw for over 300 yards against the Alouettes despite wearing...

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce threw for over 300 yards against the Alouettes despite wearing a flak jacket to protect his injured ribs. (MARIE-CLAUDE FOREST/QMI Agency file photo)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:11 AM ET

WINNIPEG - He’s still no Superman, but he’s not a bad facsimile.

And because Buck Pierce might just be the toughest quarterback to pull on a Blue Bomber jersey in 20 years, the Bombers have their first real Grey Cup contender in 10.

OK, that defence has a lot to do with it, too.

But what Pierce did in Montreal, Sunday, shaking off bruised ribs to shoot holes in the Alouettes defence in a 25-23 Winnipeg win, has to rank up there with the more courageous performances in recent memory.

The thing is, it might not even have been the most courageous of the season for Pierce.

An until-now untold story about Pierce tells you everything you need to know about the man and his commitment.

It was Week 6, the Bombers in Vancouver to take on the B.C. Lions.

Pierce woke up on game day sicker than a dog. A bad case of the stomach flu had him vomiting all day.

The team’s training staff tried to keep him hydrated, but he couldn’t keep anything down.

When the Bombers got to B.C. Place, Pierce was hooked up to an IV, where he stayed until five minutes before the pre-game warmup. At that point, the prospects of him playing were dim.

But the Bombers left the decision in the hands of No. 4.

After the warmup, and to the amazement of the medical staff, Pierce declared himself ready to go.

What followed: an 18-for-24, 237-yard performance in a 30-17 victory, improving the Bombers to 5-1.

You see movies or read books about players unhooking their IVs and running straight to the playing field, but this time it actually happened.

The training staff had never seen anything quite like it.

Yet, Pierce made no mention of it, then or since.

No wonder he was confident he’d play this past weekend after suffering bruised ribs in the Banjo Bowl.

Seeing him barely able to move after the loss to the Riders, I’d have bet good money on Pierce missing the start in Montreal.

Instead, he put on a flak jacket and a show, posting just his second 300-yard passing game of the season, his first since Week 4, allowing the Bombers to post, potentially, their most season-altering win in years.

Never mind just making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Never mind just hosting a playoff game.

After what happened in Montreal, the Bombers can only settle for one thing: first place in the CFL East, with just one victory standing between them and a trip to the Grey Cup in Vancouver.

I said I wouldn’t take these guys seriously until they beat the Alouettes.

They did it. On the road, no less. With a banged up quarterback.

The memory of back-to-back stinkers against Saskatchewan, a team that for some reason has their number: erased, just like that.

Barring a crossover by the Riders into the East playoffs — or, even less likely, Saskatchewan winning the West — the Bombers shouldn’t have to face the melon heads again this season.

For the first time in a decade, Winnipeg will hit the end of September (a victory in Toronto next weekend is a foregone conclusion, right?) as the team to beat.

Not since 2001 has it felt, so late in the season, like the Big Blue could reach the Grey Cup.

Sure, it helps that the Alouettes, a middling 6-5, have rejoined the pack.

Any mystique the two-time defending champs had left, the Bombers swept aside, Sunday.

That leaves 8-3 Winnipeg clearly in charge of a season nobody’s been in a hurry to take charge of.

Leading the charge, a defence that continues to make quarterbacks not named Darian Durant look like kids in their first algebra class.

And a quarterback who, if he had any teammates left to win over, did just that in Montreal.


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