Blue Bombers face uphill climb in clash with Stampeders
Calgary, AB (SportsNetwork.com) - Not only does Calgary have a spot in the postseason already sewn up, the team also owns the best overall record in the CFL, but don't expect the Stampeders to take it easy on Winnipeg when the Blue Bombers drop in at McMahon Stadium on Saturday.
With five games remaining in the regular season, Calgary leads the Western Division standings over British Columbia by two points, while Saskatchewan lingers in third, four points behind. There's still plenty of football to be played before final seedings in the playoffs will be set, so now is not the time for the Stamps to take their foot off the gas.
Winners of all but one of their six home games this season, the Stampeders were out on the road last week picking up their fifth victory in the last six outings overall with a 35-11 triumph versus Hamilton. It was a bit of a slow start for Calgary, the team going scoreless in the first quarter, but the pace picked up in the second with 17 points and another 10 in the third frame to send the Tiger-Cats back to the loss column.
Kevin Glenn handled the quarterbacking duties for the Stamps, converting 17 of his 26 pass attempts for 238 yards and three touchdowns, offsetting his one interception and two sacks. Although he caught a total of just four passes, Jabari Arthur turned those receptions into a game-high 103 yards and a pair of majors for the visitors.
For his efforts, Arthur was named the CFL's top Canadian last week as he helped fill the void created by an injured Nik Lewis. A two-time winner of the award, Arthur has already established new career highs in receptions (34), receiving yards (445) and touchdowns (three) in a season.
Backup quarterback Drew Tate stepped in to register a touchdown on one of his four rushing attempts, while Jon Cornish continued his pursuit of the league lead in rushing as he produced 114 yards on just 15 attempts. Cornish now has 1,207 yards on 183 carries this season, second only to Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets (1,222 yards) who has been out of action with injury.
Defensively, Calgary registered five interceptions, two of which came from Jamar Wall. Because of the huge effort, the Stamps are first in the league in turnover margin at plus-18, tied with three other teams for the most interceptions with 17.
While the Stampeders have made it a habit to take the ball away from the competition and limit their own mistakes, the same cannot be said for the Blue Bombers who were throttled by British Columbia in Week 14 action, 53-17, at home. Winnipeg threw three interceptions in that outing and lost possession of three of its five fumbles, as almost nothing went right for a team which has lost three straight and all but two games this entire season.
The quarterback tandem of Max Hall and Jason Boltus combined to hit on 19 of their 37 pass attempts for 228 yards and two touchdowns, but they also suffered four sacks. The supposed rushing attack for Winnipeg manufactured a mere 32 net yards on 12 carries.
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Winnipeg offense was Clarence Denmark who caught six passes for 118 yards and both TDs for the club.
While Calgary is the best in the business when it comes to turnovers, the Bombers are all the way at the other end of the spectrum with a staggering minus-26 in that department. The team has the fewest interceptions (seven) on defense and has thrown the most (22) on offense, numbers that go a long way in explaining why the squad is struggling so much here in 2013.
Thankfully, there is at least one player that the Blue Bombers can get excited about, that being defensive end Alex Hall who leads the league in sacks with 15. Hall, who broke into the CFL last year with nine sacks, has done his damage this year on only 30 total tackles.
By all means, Hall is someone the Bombers should be celebrating, but if he is not careful he could easily be overtaken in the sacks department by either of a couple of Calgary players. Sporting 13 and 10 sacks, respectively, Charleston Hughes and Cordarro Law bring the pressure for the Stampeders, and that should cause some concern for the Winnipeg offensive line and whomever might be handling the quarterback duties this week.
In a series that includes 190 regular-season meetings dating back to 1945, Calgary has a 101-89 advantage over the Bombers. Not only did the Stampeders win the most recent matchup in convincing fashion (37-24) in late July, the team has taken eight straight in the relationship now and nine of the last 10 clashes overall.
10/02 10:46:33 ET