Winnipeg Blue Bombers focusing one game at a time in quest for Grey Cup
Last time Bombers met Calgary Stampeders in the playoffs was 2001 Grey Cup loss
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are relishing the moment as they get closer to ending the 28-year Grey Cup drought in Winnipeg, but players are not letting the pressure of Sunday's big game get to them.
"Well, I mean it's exciting but at the same time we just kind of go by 1 and 0 every week," said linebacker Adam Bighill.
"It's way easier to focus on winning that next game and you know the future will take care of itself."
The Bombers were back at Investors Group Field on Wednesday for their first practice at home since they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23-18 in the West Division semifinal last Sunday at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. That win was the first playoff victory for the Bombers since 2011, when they beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Making Sunday's triumph even bigger is the fact that it marked the first time the Bombers have defeated Saskatchewan in the playoffs since 1965.
"We are relishing that, but we know this comes with one day at a time putting in the work," Bighill said.
The Bombers are heading to Calgary to face the Stampeders Sunday in the West Division final. Game time is 3:30 p.m. CST.
While it's an exciting time right now for both the team and fans, beating Calgary will take some work.
The last time the Bombers and Stampeders met in the playoffs was in the 2001 Grey Cup, when Calgary beat a heavily favoured Winnipeg team.
"Yeah Calgary is a different challenge I mean you're going against one of the the better defences in the league," said Bighill.
"They're a well coached team, it's definitely a different game and a different opponent, we just got to go out there and keep doing what we've been doing."
QB Matt Nichols talks about getting the job done:
Bombers running back Andrew Harris, who led the CFL in rushing for the second straight season, knows Calgary's defence will provide a stern test. In two games against the Stamps this season — one a win and one a loss — he rushed for just 99 yards on 22 carries, well under his season average.
"I mean, I think every team is tough, I wouldn't say one is tougher than the other but they definitely bring a different dynamic as far as how they play their defence is a little more sound, and the fundamentals are a little more there, they have great players on the defensive side," Harris said.
"We just have to be better on the runs than we have this season against them and you know just playing mistake-free football game against a team like that is important."
'Only focus is on Calgary'
Quarterback Matt Nichols shrugged off any past stats, saying that's not going to affect their game on Sunday.
"The past is no influence on what this game is, so to me none of that matters, I think that's for other people to talk about and right now the only focus is on Calgary this week trying to get the job done," Nichols said.
"I'm all in, all football right now for sure."
The Bombers haven't won a CFL title since 1990 when they defeated the Edmonton Eskimos in the Grey Cup.
"The focus on the opponent doesn't go anywhere past Calgary, there is no opponent if you don't beat Calgary," said head coach Mike O'Shea after Wednesday's practice.
"I think the focus has to be exactly on today. The installation of the plays, the walk-throughs and focus shouldn't go anywhere past the period we're in."
With files from the Canadian Press
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Winnipeg's opponent in the 1990 Grey Cup game as the B.C. Lions.Nov 15, 2018 7:39 PM CT