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Winnipeg and Hamilton fight to keep playoff hopes alive
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - With the hopes of making the playoffs becoming more and more dire, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats try desperately to stay alive as they collide this weekend in the final regular- season game ever at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Scheduled to be demolished in December to make room for the new Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium, Ivor Wynne will see one of the combatants on Saturday afternoon leave the building knowing that their postseason aspirations have been dashed. Should Hamilton come out on top and also defeat Toronto in the regular-season finale on Nov. 1, there's still no guarantee that the Tiger- Cats will make the cut because there are a host of variables that need to fall in their favor to ensure life after Week 19 action.
Winnipeg still has an opportunity to take third place in the standings but must win the final two games of the regular season and have Edmonton bow in both of its outings to close things out. Even though both of these teams are sporting 5-11 records and are tied for third in the Eastern Division, there are several different scenarios that are possible that will dictate who will move on and who will start prepping early for the 2013 campaign.
The Bombers, who will try again this week to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, scored a season-high 44 points in a 12-point win against Toronto on the road last week. In that meeting, Buck Pierce returned to the huddle and converted 13-of-22 passes for 200 yards, but it was backup signal-caller Alex Brink who made more of an impact with his 31 yards and two touchdowns on 10 rushing attempts.
In fact, the passing attack for Winnipeg took a back seat to what the team was able to accomplish on the ground as it ran the ball 43 times for 260 yards and four majors. The 43 rushing attempts marked the most in the league since Saskatchewan had the same number, leading to 290 yards at Edmonton some 11 years ago.
Chad Simpson recorded a game-high 136 yards on 20 carries and landed in the end zone on a 14-yard effort late in the second quarter. Will Ford contributed another 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries as well.
While Winnipeg was having its way on the road, the Tiger-Cats were being frustrated by host Calgary last Saturday night as Hamilton came up short in a 34-32 final. The loss for the 'Cats was their third in a row and the fourth in the last five outings. In fact, since winning three straight back in July the team has posted a record of only 2-9.
Hamilton rolled up an impressive 489 yards of total offense against the Stamps on the road, but the team certainly didn't help itself by committing 14 penalties for a total of 98 yards. The squad also turned the ball over three times, twice by quarterback Henry Burris who tossed a couple of interceptions while completing 24-of-33 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns. The other knock on Burris, even though he piled up the yards, was that he allowed himself to be sacked six times.
Receiver Chris Williams made a significant impact for the visitors as he caught seven balls for 122 yards and a score, adding another 30 yards in punt returns which means he now has 2,399 combined yards on the season, good enough for second place in the league. With the touchdown he is also all alone in first place when it comes to total majors in the league with 14, registering eight on receptions and a staggering six on returns, the latter making Hamilton one of the most accomplished clubs in that department in the last several years.
Along with Williams, Burris creates one of the more exciting duos in the league, but there are times when the Tiger-Cats simply can't get out of their own way. True, Burris is second in the CFL in passing with 4,699 yards and thanks to a league-best 37 TDs he also has the top efficiency rating (104.6), but those numbers also go along with 16 interceptions, which means Hamilton is last in the CFL in turnover margin at minus-12 overall.
Not that much better in the turnover department, Winnipeg is seventh in the league at minus-10.
Dating back to 1950 and taking into account only regular-season matchups, Winnipeg holds a 59-45 edge in the all-time series thanks in part to a current run of five straight victories over the Ticats. The Bombers, winners of six of the last nine encounters overall, delivered a 34-12 decision at home in the most recent meeting back in September, a victory that served to snap the team's four-game slide but was still the only triumph during a six-game stretch for the club.
10/24 11:36:05 ET
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