WINNIPEG - Buck Pierce reached a milestone that nobody talked about last weekend.
Probably because it reflects the millstone hanging from his neck for much of his CFL career.
The Winnipeg Blue Bomber quarterback surpassed his career high for passing yards in a season, reaching 3,062 in Edmonton, 44 more than he managed in B.C., three years ago.
ďNice,Ē a laughing Pierce said, Thursday, of the humble accomplishment. ďIíve played a lot of games, too. Thatís good.Ē
Thatís the thing. You play enough games, youíll post some yards. Big deal.
Looking inside the numbers, you quickly realize Pierce has had better. Much better.
Although heís started more games than ever, 14 so far, the cold, hard October truth is there are seven CFL quarterbacks with significant time as starters this season who have higher passer ratings than Winnipegís No. 4.
The immortal Cleo Lemon is one of them.
Compared to Pierceís opposite number in Saturdayís first-place showdown, well, thereís no comparison.
Montrealís Anthony Calvillo is the untouchable head of the class of 2011 with a passer rating of nearly 105, while Pierce sits at the back with a very average 83.8 mark.
Calvillo has fired 31 touchdown passes to Pierceís 13, five interceptions to Pierceís 16.
Thatís the one stat Pierce likes about as much as a blind-side, blitzing linebacker.
ďIt bugs me,Ē he said. ďBecause Iíve never been a guy thatís turned the ball over. Iíve done pretty well at that, throughout my college and pro career. So thatís tough.Ē
Just once in his seven-year CFL career has Pierce finished a season with more interceptions than touchdowns: his final year with the Lions, in 2009.
I expected more from Pierce this year, assuming he stayed upright.
Errant limbs were a concern, perhaps, but errant throws?
Safe to say Paul LaPolice expected more by now, too.
Remember, the head coach earlier this season said Pierce could be as good as anyone in the league.
ďIíd like everyone around him to play better, and Iíd like him to play better,Ē LaPolice said, Thursday.
Hereís the thing about Pierce, though.
He continues to win more than he loses.
Of the Big Blueís nine victories, heís been the man at the controls for eight. That against three losses you can hang on him as the quarterback of record.
I donít see many pivots with a better winning percentage.
ďFor a quarterback, at the end of the day you look at if theyíre a winner or not,Ē Pierce said. ďThatís something Iíve always hung my hat on, competing and winning. Iíve never been a guy thatís blown up the stats sheet and all that stuff. I donít think I ever will be. But Iíll compete.
ďThereís no stat columns for being competitive and getting wins.Ē
Thatís why Pierce remains this teamís best bet to lead the huddle.
If heís scrambled for seven yards but needs eight, heíll put his head down and try to get it ó even in the dying minutes of a game thatís out of reach, as he did in Edmonton, last week.
Nearing his 30th birthday, Pierce may not be the prettiest passer around, but more often than not he gets the job done.
When you think about it, heís the perfect quarterback for a team that appears to be limping its way to the finish line, bloodied and battered, perhaps, but still with its eye on the prize.
In trying to describe Pierceís inconsistent play this season, two words come to mind. If we use the same words to describe the Bombers when all is said and done, nobody will be worried about passer ratings or touchdown-to-interception ratios.
The two words: ugly, and winner.