Victory doesn't boost Bombers

November 14, 1994|By Dave Supleve | Dave Supleve,Special to The Sun

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are worried.

Their concern is not about the Baltimore CFLs, but more so about themselves.

A team that won nine more games than its opponent, as was the case when Winnipeg faced the Ottawa Rough Riders yesterday, shouldn't be so hard-pressed for victory.

On the strength of six field goals by Troy Westwood, the Bombers beat the Rough Riders, 26-16, setting up an Eastern Division final showdown with the CFLs.

The Bombers are either not as good as their regular-season record of 13-5 would indicate or the Rough Riders aren't as bad as their 4-14 mark.

Many members of the Blue Bombers seem concerned the former is true.

"We should have blown these guys out," said Winnipeg defensive halfback Bobby Evans. "I know we're going to have to pick it up another notch to beat Baltimore."

The only way the Bombers can live down their 57-10 loss to Baltimore on Oct. 29 is to prevail in the final. The Bombers aren't accustomed to being embarrassed, but there is also a sense they don't know what to do about it.

"We just need to prove to ourselves we're the best team in the league, and now we get another opportunity," said slotback Gerald Wilcox, who caught three passes for 66 yards yesterday. "All we're thinking about right now is finding a way to start firing on all cylinders and not making the little errors. Little errors will get you beat."

Home field is a major boost for the Bombers. Yesterday's win, in balmy November conditions for the Canadian prairies, was Winnipeg's ninth in 10 games at Winnipeg Stadium this season.

Westwood was one of those Bombers showing the most concern about facing Baltimore.

"Anxious," said Westwood about meeting the CFLs, "and quite concerned. I think we need to put this in perspective. If we don't get this together, we won't beat Baltimore."

One Bomber apparently not willing or interested in discussing what needs to be done to beat Baltimore was quarterback Matt Dunigan.

Dunigan bristled when asked whether a performance similar to yesterday's would suffice in the final.

"Who knows?" said Dunigan. "We played well enough today to beat Ottawa. We weren't playing Baltimore. We were playing the Ottawa Rough Riders, and we did what we had to do to beat them."

The Bombers have had standing reservations in the Eastern Division final. Their appearance Sunday will mark the eighth straight time they've played in the final. Winnipeg only joined the Eastern Division in 1987 -- eight seasons ago -- after the Montreal Alouettes folded.

Winnipeg general manager and head coach Cal Murphy said his team can play better than it did last month against Baltimore.

"If we had blown Ottawa out, we might have taken the approach we could do it again next week," said Murphy. "This makes it better football, because we were forced to play 60 minutes. I can assure you, we'll be ready for Baltimore.

"I guess, as they say, the road to the Grey Cup goes through Winnipeg."

NOTES: The turnout at yesterday's game was 18,888. The game was televised in Winnipeg. . . . Bombers wide receiver Tim Daniel left the game after hurting his knee. The Bombers have had five players suffer torn anterior cruciate ligaments this season. . . . Ottawa's 4-14 record was not the worst regular-season mark for a CFL playoff team. In 1981, Montreal grabbed third place in the Eastern Division with a 3-13 record.

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