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This article was published 23/10/2012 (1341 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
All the cynics and naysayers -- and there have been many in this nightmarish season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- will insist there is danger in everyone getting too caught up in the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel thing.
Insert the tired cliché of your choice here, that said light is a freight train about to deep-six them or a flash that is going to suck them into a black hole, but it won't break the vibe, temporary as it may be, growing in Bomberland over the last few days.
Yes, there were the Bombers -- at 5-11 somehow amazingly still in the Canadian Football League's playoff picture -- giddily practising Tuesday at the Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex as if the lid were about to be lifted on a new season. Backs were slapped, hearty laughs were shared and spirits were high in a scene that would hardly lead any witness to believe this was a collection of dead men walking.
And so while it will still take a three-game winning streak to finish the season and an act of God or two to just qualify for the playoffs, it seems you'll have to excuse the Bombers, in a year so devoid of these kind of scenes, for at least living large in the moment.
"Hey, anything can happen in the CFL, you know that," said centre Justin Sorensen. "We've won three of our last five and lost two close games in the others. So, yeah, this team is re-energized. We were always trying to win, it's just that some things have come together recently."
What the Bombers have done over the last few weeks in having 'some things come together' isn't all that complicated. Buck Pierce, their starting QB, is healthy again. The ground game is chewing up huge yardage behind the O-line. And the defence, while not the dominant force it was a year ago, has done enough in winning two of the last three contests to seal the deal.
All this may be small consolation soon, but for now it at least keeps the Bombers in the fight for another week.
"Everybody sees it. We have changed over the last few weeks," said receiver Chris Matthews. "With Buck coming back and coach Crow (offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton) finalizing his playbook and us understanding what's going on, it helps us out. We're able to play now without thinking too much and that's why a lot of things have clicked.
"At the end of the day, this is still football. This isn't a nine-to-five job where we have to go in every day and punch a bunch of buttons on a computer. This is something a lot of people wish they could do, dream they could do. It seemed like a lot of people weren't seeing it that way. Now there's a whole different outlook."
Granted, all of this could come crashing down in a nanosecond on the weekend. A loss in Hamilton or a win by the Edmonton Eskimos means the obituary would be penned on a Bomber team that entered 2012 as defending East Division champions, but has been struggling to stay upright since those four quick knockdowns to open the season.
No, this wasn't how the script was to unfold for the Bombers -- to be facing elimination in October after already having fired its head coach -- but those discussions and that kind of thinking was hardly on anyone's lips on Tuesday. Sure, winning can mask a lot of flaws and maybe this lot is dreaming in Technicolor. But winning could -- 'could' being the operative word here -- erase a lot of bad memories, too.
"That's the strange thing about the CFL," explained running back Chad Simpson. "You can lose how we did this year and still have a chance to win a Grey Cup. It'd be a great story to pull that off."
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