November 3, 2011

Brown thinks time is right to snap Calgary curse


WINNIPEG — Doug Brown believes the time is right for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to snap their ugly streak in southern Alberta.

The Bombers haven’t beaten the Stampeders in Calgary since October 2002, but the 11-year veteran says his team has done the unexpected all year.

And Brown sees no reason why Winnipeg can’t walk into McMahon Stadium on Saturday and come away with a win that would clinch first place in the CFL’s East Division.

“It’s a perfect situation for this team ’cause that’s all we do – things out of the ordinary,” the defensive tackle said after Thursday’s practice. “Anything that is usual, expected, regular, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to do things that are not required, that no one thinks we have a chance of and things we’re not capable of.

“That’s what we specialize best in in 2011 here in Winnipeg so it’s a good matchup for us.”

Calgary and Winnipeg both have 10-7 records and their playoff pictures may or may not clear up after the game.

A win and the Bombers get first place and the bye over the Montreal Alouettes (10-7). A loss and Winnipeg will have to hope the Als lose to the Lions (10-7) in B.C. on Saturday night. If the teams finish tied, the Bombers get top spot by virtue of winning the season series 2-1.

The Stampeders could finish anywhere from first to third in the West Division, depending on how the Lions and Edmonton Eskimos (10-7) fair. Edmonton hosts Saskatchewan (5-12) on Friday. Wins by the Eskimos and Lions would drop Calgary to third no matter how they do in the Winnipeg game.

The fact that the Bombers are even playing for first place is an example of the team’s unpredictable year.

Coming off a 4-14 season, Winnipeg stunned fans by opening with a 7-1 mark. The one loss was 21-20 to the Stampeders on July 14.

Winnipeg then went on a roller-coaster ride, grabbing a rare victory in Montreal and losing twice to Saskatchewan and Toronto (5-12).

Last week, the Bombers were supposed to defeat the lowly Argos, but they fell behind 24-3 before losing 27-22.

Winnipeg starting quarterback Buck Pierce left the game with a right knee injury and Alex Brink will take his place in Calgary. It’s Brink’s third career start and so far he’s 0-2.

The Stampeders are the favourites with new starting quarterback Drew Tate at the helm looking to win his third straight game.

It’s a scenario that should play into the hands of Brown’s theory that the Bombers will beat the odds.

“As of right now, it’s backwards land,” Brown said. “That’s what we play in, bizarro world, OK?

“We’re staying consistent with that. I hope it rings true in Calgary.”

The 39-year-old Brown is retiring after this season and Saturday’s game will take him full circle.

His first CFL regular-season game was in Calgary in 2001, a very memorable 48-20 Winnipeg win when he scored his first and only touchdown.

“You know what that means? Time to score another touchdown. That’s right,” Brown said with a smile.

“I remember that. It was 22 yards. Denny Fortney caused a fumble. (The ball) bounced right in my hands. I had (offensive lineman) Fred Childress chasing after me so I didn’t really have to run hard all the way into the end zone.

“It was beautiful thing to score in your first game. It would be a nice thing to score in my last game, too.”

The victory also stood out because of some sideline antics.

He recalled former Bombers star receiver Milt Stegall pretending to ride an imaginary horse up and down the sidelines after their touchdowns, mimicking the real horse the Stamps use.

“It was my first time in Calgary, I didn’t know what he was doing,” Brown said.

“I said, ‘Who is this (number) 85 clown playing with phantoms on the sideline? I didn’t get it at all, but now I understand.

“Now I might do it. If we actually win the game, you might be seeing me pretending to ride an imaginary horse up and down the sideline because there’s been so much frustration built up over years of non-success out there.”

Notes: Winnipeg safety Ian Logan has missed practices this week with an illness head coach Paul LaPolice said was “undisclosed.” Cornerback Jovon Johnson will start in Logan’s place if he can’t play. Backup Deon Beasley would then take over Johnson’s corner spot.