Canada Day, again for Bombers

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce says Friday’s game against the Tiger-Cats is comparable to the...

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce says Friday’s game against the Tiger-Cats is comparable to the Week 1 game the two clubs played at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., which Winnipeg won. (MARIE-CLAUDE FOREST/QMI Agency file photo)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

HAMILTON - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers can go a long way towards securing a home playoff game on Friday night.

Since they have already won the season series against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Bombers, with a victory on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium, can essentially move three games up on the Tabbies with four to play.

The Bombers haven’t hosted a playoff game since 2008, which is also the last time they made the post-season. Winnipeg will clinch a playoff berth with a win on Friday.

The only problem for the Bombers is they are reeling right now, having lost four of their last five. If they can get up off the mat and knock off the Ticats for the third time in three attempts, a three-way race for first in the East Division will basically be down to two.

The Bombers and Montreal Alouettes are both 8-5, while the Tiger-Cats are 7-6.

Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce, who returns to the lineup after missing last week’s loss to Montreal with bruised ribs, believes the Bombers might have the Ticats right where they want them.

“We came in here Week 1 on Canada Day and got us a huge victory,” Pierce said of the 24-16 triumph. “I compare it to that week, where people are maybe doubting us a little bit, where we’re not ourselves at all. We need to come out, and we need to win.”

The Bombers won by eight points in Week 1 and by three in Week 9, and in both matches they returned a Kevin Glenn interception for a touchdown. The former Bombers quarterback said his penchant for pick-sixes against his former club won’t be in the back of his mind on Friday night.

“That kind of stuff happens,” Glenn said. “If I started worrying about that kind of stuff, it takes my mind off of other things.

“I’m not going to shy away from throwing a ball to a particular side because a guy intercepted a pass and took it back.”

The Ticats have won two in a row and will feature a new weapon the Bombers haven’t seen this season. Running back Terry Grant is sharing the backfield with Avon Cobourne, and he rattled off 115 yards on just 10 carries last week against Toronto.

The Bombers allowed three big passes against the Tiger-Cats in a 30-27 win on Aug. 26 — two of which went for touchdowns — so they will be focusing on Hamilton’s big-play ability this time around. It may include a defensive back, Johnny Sears, occasionally playing weak-side linebacker, which would be a rarity in the CFL.

“They hit us in the last game with a couple of plays that were hard on the coverage that we were playing,” Bombers defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke said. “Since that time, we’ve mixed our coverages more and we’ll do that in this game so they don’t get a beat on anything specific.”

Another key important aspect to Friday’s game will be how long Pierce can last with his tender ribs. Ticats defensive end Stevie Baggs actually licked his fingers and said “Finger-lickin’ good” when asked Thursday about playing a quarterback with sore ribs.

Pierce looked quite perturbed when told of Baggs’ comments and vowed to not let the former Bomber get in his head.

“I’m not having my radar set to Stevie Baggs in any aspect at all,” Pierce said with a bit of a scowl. “I’m going out there to execute my game plan, and we’re not too worried about it.”


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