Winning begets winning in professional sports, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — fresh off snapping their seven-game losing skid with a Banjo Bowl victory — are hoping to build off their second win of the season as they begin a home-and-home series with the CFL's cellar-dwelling 1-9 Edmonton Eskimos.
"I've been on teams that have been on losing streaks and broke out of it. All it takes is that first one, and if you just focus on one game at a time then you can climb out of things like this," said Winnipeg defensive end Greg Peach. "And I think after that first Saskatchewan game we kind of figured out that if we put a full game together we can put them away and put any team away. Now we have that confidence that we can do it to any team."
"I was only here for a couple days before that first game (in Saskatchewan)," added Peach, who joined the Bombers just three days before the Labour Day Classic in Regina. "But I just know from experience of teams that have been on big losing streaks that I know what they were going through the last seven games. And I understand what the mentality is and what players are thinking. I think now we got this first win, I think there's a confidence that's building and guys are believing and putting things together."
Peach, a five-year CFL veteran, knows that in the Canadian game you can't count a team out of the playoffs regardless of their record until late in the season — especially in this year's East Division. And his coach knows it too.
"We're a unique league in that respect because six of the eight teams are going to the playoffs. In the NFL or NCAA or whatever, if you had a below .500 record you wouldn't even sniff at the playoffs," said head coach Tim Burke. "They're aware. I mean most of them are aware. I can't believe some of them weren't."
With the youngest roster in the league this is the case. Several Blue Bombers didn't know until this week that they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. And with Eastern opponents Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal facing tough road games over the next two weeks, Winnipeg has a chance to capitalize on back-to-back games against the single-win Eskimos.
"It was just brought to my attention that we were back into the playoff race," said second-year defensive back Demond Washington, fresh off his Defensive Player of the Week nod. "We've just got to bear down and play hard this week. Every week from here on out just take it one week at a time and we'll get it done."
"Once you get that win up under your belt, you gain a little confidence and you want to go out, you want to play more, you want to win more. So I think that win is contagious. All the guys are going to come out and we're going to play hard."
It may be cliché, but it appears Winnipeg's bench boss is having his team focus on the weekly task at hand.
"I prefer to focus on one game; one game at a time," added Burke. "I mean, I have in the past said 'hey, here's a reason why we should be working our butts off, we're only four points out,' and then after last week we were only six points out. But now we're back to four points out. My approach has always been to take it one game at a time and focus on that. Use the game itself as your motivation. Don't use playoffs because that's something you can't grasp."
"But you know, it's interesting. As the season goes along, we're still in it. So we have a lot to fight for, that's for sure."
Notes: The Winnipeg Football Club is now officially in the post-Buck Pierce era, as acting GM Kyle Walters moved the veteran pivot to the B.C. Lions for Canadian receiver Akeem Foster. The 26-year-old made Winnipeg's 46-man roster this week, but he isn't expected to dress... Fellow Canadian receiver Jade Etienne, recovering from a concussion suffered in the Labour Day Classic, practiced this week and has been cleared medically to start in Edmonton after missing the Banjo Bowl... 2012 third-overall draft pick Tyson Pencer will dress for his first professional game in Edmonton this week. He will start at right guard, bumping Shannon Boatman back to right tackle... Guard/tackle Paul Swiston has been placed on the nine-game injured list with shoulder and knee injuries...
...Winnipeg pulled off another trade this week, acquiring veteran offensive lineman Marc Parenteau and a 2014 third-round pick from Toronto for Canadian running back Anthony Woodson and a fifth-round pick. Parenteau will dress as the Bombers' sixth lineman this week... With Chad Simpson still on the shelf for at least another week with a foot injury, Winnipeg added import running back Shawnbrey McNeal to the practice roster. Will Ford, who was named the league's Special Teams Player of the Week after his 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in the Banjo Bowl, will start again this week in place of Simpson. Backup safety Dan West is out two weeks with a hamstring pull...