Winnipeg unfazed by 57-10 bombing

November 17, 1994|By Dave Supleve | Dave Supleve,Special to The Sun

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The weather is turning nasty, snow is in the forecast and the ground crunches with every step.

It's exactly the way the Winnipeg Blue Bombers like it.

The Bombers are about the only people in Manitoba who want to spend November in Winnipeg. They love the lousy weather, and they can't wait to welcome visitors.

The Bombers are where they want to be, at home, and facing a challenge they want to meet, settling a score with the Baltimore CFLs.

The score to be settled is that nasty 57-10 matter of Oct. 29. The Bombers have lived with the mental scars of that thrashing for the past three weeks.

"I hope nobody is trying to shove it out the back door of their mind," said Winnipeg linebacker Paul Randolph. "My feeling is we shouldn't put it behind us. As far as being scared or intimidated, that isn't the case. We're not intimidated by anything. You can beat us, 100-0, and we still won't be intimidated."

The Bombers find great security at Winnipeg Stadium. In the 1990s, the Bombers have won 44 of 50 games played on their home field. The record includes five consecutive playoff victories. Winnipeg has won 10 of its past 11 playoff games on its home field. It's a tough place to come at this time of year.

"You've got to come in here and battle the elements, for one thing," said Winnipeg center Dave Vankoughnett. "We consider ourselves a blue-collar team, and the weather isn't a factor to us."

The Winnipeg offense considers it essential to get some early points on the CFLs. The Bombers must guard against the here-we-go-again syndrome that could set in if Baltimore were to score the first 10 points.

Vankoughnett said Winnipeg let Baltimore dictate the ground rules in the Oct. 29 meeting.

"We had some things that didn't go our way early, and we never came around," said Vankoughnett. "We played right into their hands."

Some Bombers did elect to forget about the game, but the memories are coming back vividly this week.

"We had to win two games to get back to this point, and that's all we concentrated on," said nose tackle Stan Mikawos, a 13-year Winnipeg veteran. "At the time, we had to forget about it. Now, we have to look back and use it as a motivating tool.

"They rubbed it in our faces. They had a pretty good scheme against us. We're going to a lot of adjusting on defense to try and stuff their run."

The Bombers were hard-pressed to dispose of the Ottawa Rough Riders -- who were 4-14 in the regular season -- in the Eastern Division semifinal, winning by 10 points.

The Bombers say a close win might have done them more good than a blowout, forcing them to play 60 minutes and retain their focus. A common theme was that a huge point spread -- say, 47 points -- might have gotten the Bombers thinking everything would be easy in the playoffs.

Mikawos says that danger exists for Baltimore after the way the CFLs handled the Bombers.

"Whenever you destroy a team, you always tend to be a little overconfident," said Mikawos. "At the same time, I think there's enough veterans on Baltimore to dictate to the rookies what has to be done."

The determination of the Bombers is exemplified by their arrival time at work. Players are showing up right after breakfast to watch tapes and swap theories on what it will take to beat Baltimore.

There has been no need for any stirring speeches by the coaches.

"What I noticed about this team is they take the responsibility for a whipping like that personally," said Winnipeg defensive coordinator Mike Roach. "They hate it, and they're embarrassed by it."

The Winnipeg players are prepared to hear about 57-10 constantly in the next 72 hours. They're willing to let the CFLs talk all they want.

"I don't know if they expect to scare us," said Vankoughnett. "If they do, they're barking up the wrong tree."

NOTES: The Bombers returned to practice yesterday, but defensive end Loyd Lewis (neck) and wide receiver Tim Daniel (ankle) were out. Coach Cal Murphy has postponed a decision on their status until Saturday. . . . Ticket sales passed the 16,000 mark yesterday. The game will be televised in Winnipeg.

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