Bombers facing must-win game
WINNIPEG—The Winnipeg Blue Bombers need to extend one streak and snap another tomorrow to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Bombers are in Hamilton for the final game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Winnipeg hasn’t lost a regular-season game to the Ticats since Aug. 13, 2010—a streak of five contests—but quarterback Buck Pierce is unsure as to why.
“We have the confidence level when we go in and play against them.
“It seems like we execute well and we match up well against them,” Pierce added.
“Their offence is a big-play offence and that kind of puts the pressure on our offence to stay on the field a little bit longer.”
Actually, Winnipeg has won its last six-straight against Hamilton—the other victory being a 19-3 decision over the Ticats in last year’s East Division final.
But Winnipeg (5-11) hasn’t managed consecutive wins all season and is coming off an impressive 44-32 victory in Toronto last week.
The Bombers last recorded back-to-back wins Aug. 26, 2011—the second victory, coincidentally, coming against Hamilton.
Pierce is just as puzzled trying to explain that streak, as well.
“Lack of consistency, lack of focus would be my guesses,” he remarked.
“Maybe too much confidence going in after a win.”
Whatever the answer, now would be a good time to find it.
Hamilton (5-11) and Winnipeg are scrapping over the same bone—the last playoff spot in the East Division.
But also in the mix are the Edmonton Eskimos (7-9), who sit poised to take that bone with just one more win.
That would ensure a team from the West Division crossing over and taking the final East Division playoff berth.
Edmonton plays Montreal on Sunday and both Hamilton and Winnipeg only can hope the Alouettes, who already have secured first place in the East, will want to play hard regardless.
“One of us is going to be out and one of us is going to be in it for at least 24 hours,” noted interim Bombers’ head coach Tim Burke, adding if he could, he’d ask Als’ quarterback Anthony Calvillo play this week and sit out the next one.
Winnipeg plays Montreal next week in the final regular-season game for both.
Burke said the stakes are different for Montreal on Sunday, but he’s counting on the Alouettes wanting to keep their momentum going.
“Montreal doesn’t have to win, Edmonton does, but . . . I know [Als’ head coach] Marc Trestman real well and I think he’ll have those guys ready to play this week,” Burke noted.
“He does not want to go into the playoffs with a negative . . . he wants to go in with momentum.”
Burke has been touted as a possible head coach next season, although he insists he hasn’t had any offers.
But he’s managed to make the Bombers look and feel more like contenders since taking over.
“I think it’s too early to say that we’ve overcome everything,” he stressed.
“Now, if we can win out here and go into the playoffs, then you’re looking at a team with momentum, which is what you want.”