CALGARY — Though the Calgary Stampeders executed a come-from-behind 13-12 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team feels they need to better come playoffs.
After facing a 12-0 deficit late in the fourth quarter, the Stamps pulled out all the stops in order to hand the Bombers their second loss in a row and only their third of the season. It started with Jake Maier finding Luther Hakunavanhu who rumbled into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Stamps life. Later, it was Rene Paredes who completed the comeback with a 27-yard walk-off field goal.
Given the hole the Stamps dug themselves out of, Dave Dickenson was happy with the effort his guys showed but he knows they can’t afford to have the first half they had against Bombers in the Western Semi-Final.
“It wasn’t a pretty performance in a lot of areas,” said Dickenson to the media. “I thought we had a lot of mental errors offensively. I thought defensively, we couldn’t stop the run in the first half. Like they have all year, the team keeps fighting and believing and they got the job done.”
In the eyes of Dickenson, one area that really hurt them was their inability to get past the Bombers’ offensive line. With the push that the Bombers’ front was generating, Johnny Augustine was able to get into the second level which allowed him the space to rack up 148 rushing yards on the night.
“They’re a good group,” said Dickenson. “Augustine ran really well. To me, he’s auditioned himself into a potential starter in our league and he’s done that consistently when he’s got the chance. I think, obviously, we can’t give up the battle like that, they had their way with us especially in the first half.”
Though there was room for criticism to go around, Dickenson did take time to note some areas that answered the call and performed down the stretch.
“It wasn’t high enough intensity, there weren’t enough people locked in on what they needed to do,” said Dickenson. “That’s where I was proud of the young guys, Luther and Colton Hunchak making big plays, Jake coming back. Obviously, I thought our secondary and our defensive line started stepping up in the second half and making plays. The things were there, just was it enough? Just enough.”
When he was asked for his opinion on the game, Jameer Thurman, who forced a fumble in the first half, issued the same sentiment as his coach.
“We kept fighting, I’ll tell you that,” said Thurman post-game. “It wasn’t pretty, we were playing bad defensively. They had — I don’t even want to look at how many rushing yards they had, I know it was almost 200, maybe even more. It was bad, but we kept fighting and got some stops when we need to and came out with the win.”
Looking ahead next week to the start of the playoffs, Thurman knows the defence needs to tighten up before taking on William Powell and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“As a defence, we have to look in the mirror in ourselves and figure out what happened to us,” said Thurman. “Coming into playoffs, teams are going to run the ball. If we’re not able to stop the run, we’re not going to win games so we have to look in the mirror and get back to the drawing board and fix that.”
For the fourth time this season, the Stamps will take on the Riders, who host the Western Semi-Final next Sunday for a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Mosaic Stadium.