By Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press
CALGARY – The Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers find themselves in similar situations heading into Saturday afternoon’s game between the West Division foes at McMahon Stadium.
Both teams are looking for bounce-back efforts from tough Week 10 losses. The Bombers (5-4) dropped a 44-21 decision to the Ottawa Redblacks at home on Friday, while the Stampeders (7-1) lost 40-27 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders two nights later in Regina.
“It’s only one loss,” said Stamps linebacker Alex Singleton, who had five tackles and one forced fumble against Saskatchewan. “It’s not going to define our season in any way. If we go out and win the rest of them, we’re 17-1 and I don’t think anyone’s going to be worrying about what happened against Sask.”
That’s not to say that the Stamps won’t learn from the humbling defeat to the Roughriders, who jumped out to leads of 14-0 through one quarter and 24-6 at the half.
“It’s a lot easier learning off a win then it is after a loss, but sometimes you need that,” Singleton said. “You need to know what it feels like. You need to know that you didn’t come back … and what you can do to make that happen the next time those situations come up.”
While the Stamps will be hungry to bounce back following their first setback of the season, the Bombers also have a lot to prove after seeing their three-game winning streak snapped by the Redblacks.
“They’re in the same situation,” said Singleton. “It was last game. They’re not playing Ottawa again. They’re playing us.
“They’re out in Calgary, it’s a west opponent. It’s all these different circumstances that have nothing to do with the last game they played. It’s important to them because it’s a west opponent and they want to win games and get points to make the playoffs.”
Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea said his team will not only need to have a strong start, but that his players will have to keep up that intensity throughout the game.
“You certainly don’t want to get down,” O’Shea said. “There’s nothing good with coming from behind against a tough team like this. You’ve got a plan and you’re going to stick to your plan. Good execution will lead to scoring plays, not anything else really. We’re looking to come out and play a cleanly executed football game for a full 60 minutes. ”
Quarterback Matt Nichols agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“We’ve got to go out and play clean football and we have the talent to beat anyone,” Nichols said. “Whether you’re down 14 late in the game or up 14 late in the game, this is a team that just somehow they find a way to be there in the end, so you’ve got to make sure you do everything possible to never let the foot off the gas and make sure you finish all the way until there are zeros (on the clock).”
Despite having only five days to prepare to face the Bombers, Calgary coach Dave Dickenson said the Stamps will be ready for a tough challenge.
“It’s been a short week,” Dickenson said. “I think the energy’s still there. We’re excited to play again. Both teams coming off losses looking forward to playing the next game, so it’ll be a battle.”
Led by a pair of touchdown receptions from DaVaris Daniels, the Stamps had a better second half against the Riders, which is something they hope to build off of heading into Saturday’s game.
“We all have to be better no matter who had a good game and who didn’t,” Daniels stressed. “The thing is we’ve got to come out ready to play from the jump. All the teams in the west, and all over the league really, are gunning for us.
“We’re the top team, so we’ve got to be ready for whatever they throw at us and roll with the punches. If we do get down and we face some adversity, we’ve got to stay together and we’ve got to keep competing.”
WINNIPEG (5-4) AT CALGARY (7-1)
Saturday, McMahon Stadium
KEY MATCHUP – Stampeders RB Don Jackson vs. Blue Bombers LB Adam Bighill. After missing the last three games with a hamstring injury, Jackson is listed as Calgary’s starting running back against the Bombers. Bighill, who headed into this weekend’s games in second spot in the CFL with 57 defensive tackles, doesn’t plan on making Jackson’s return to action a pleasant one.
THE BIG NUMBER – 150. In his 11th season with the Stampeders, DB Brandon Smith will suit up for his 150th career CFL game against Winnipeg. Smith is currently the longest-serving player with the Stamps.
WHO’S HOT – Stampeders REC Kamar Jorden is riding a streak of seven straight games with at least five catches. That’s the longest such streak of any CFL player this season. Jorden caught five passes for 66 yards and one touchdown in a losing cause against the Roughriders last Sunday just 15 days after amassing a season-high 185 yards on five catches, to go with another TD, during Calgary’s 27-18 win at home over the B.C. Lions.
WHO’S NOT – Bombers REC Nic Demski struggled with just three catches for 14 yards during Winnipeg’s loss at home to the Redblacks in Week 10. Although he did manage to haul in a touchdown pass during Winnipeg’s 29-23 win at home over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats one week earlier, Demski still only finished with two catches for 45 yards.