Blue's big chance
By Kirk Penton, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Greg Carr (L) celebrates his second half touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts with Clarence Denmark during their CFL game in Winnipeg on Oct. 28, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)
Not trying to be too dramatic here, but a Bomber win on Saturday afternoon would be one of their biggest triumphs in a decade.
The Blue and Gold (10-7) can wrap up first place in the East Division with a victory over the Calgary Stampeders (10-7) at McMahon Stadium in their regular-season finale.
They’ll attempt to do it with their third-string quarterback and third-string running back in a city they haven’t won in since 2002, but this team has done wackier things.
If the Bombers lose, they’ll need the Montreal Alouettes to lose to the B.C. Lions Saturday night to still finish first. There wouldn’t be enough Pepto-Bismol in Cowtown to calm the Bomber players and coaches as they watch that one.
Going back to the magnitude of Saturday’s game, though, the only Bomber victory since 2001 that would rival one on Saturday would be the 2007 East Final in Toronto.
They were going up against a stout Argos defence and were expected to lose a tight battle. They won and ended up a Kevin Glenn broken arm away from winning their first Grey Cup since 1990.
The reason why a Saturday triumph would come close to matching the 2007 division final is the fact the Bombers haven’t finished first in the division since 2001. Way too many times over the past few years we’ve written about how big this game is or that game is, and most often the post-game interviews were done in a Bomber locker-room where you could hear a pin drop.
This is their chance.
It’ll be tough, no doubt, but that’s what would make it so monumental.
One game away from the Grey Cup. One home game away from the Grey Cup. It will be cold on Saturday, the Calgary offence is arguably the best in the CFL, and Bomber quarterback Alex Brink is starting the third game of his career.
“We understand what we gotta do,” Brink said, looking cool, calm and collected on Friday afternoon at the team hotel, his tie loosened and the top button of his dress shirt undone as he joked with the media about his love for Boston sports teams.
Not only would a triumph give the Bombers first place, but it would also a boatload of confidence going into the East Final on Nov. 20. Head coach Paul LaPolice noted there’d be other benefits as well.
“We’re missing a bunch of guys because of injuries. We can get those guys back,” he said. “And certainly you’re one game from the Grey Cup. That’s a huge thing.
“On top of that, this is a good football team, the Calgary Stampeders. One of the best. So it means a lot to a young team like us to be able to beat that team.”
The Stampeders (10-7) still have a chance to host a playoff game, so they’re going to give all they’ve got. There would be no asterisk beside a Bomber victory.
“Calgary’s a talented football team, but we feel we’re a talented team, too,” LaPolice said. “We need to play our best game and take care of first place on our own.”
This is their chance.