A healthy quarterback Buck Pierce tries to reverse the Bombers' 2-9 slide
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Buck Pierce, left, is sacked by B.C. Lions' Keron Williams during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on June 29. Pierce left the game later in the half with an injury. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Scott Edmonds, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 21, 2012 1:21PM CST
Last Updated Friday, September 21, 2012 1:22PM CST
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will have a healthy Buck Pierce at quarterback on Friday as they to rescue their season in a rematch with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats -- one of only two teams it has managed to beat this year.
Given their record so far (2-9), Pierce wasn't making any bold predictions Thursday about the Bombers ability to get back in the playoff hunt.
"We haven't showed maturity in certain situations. Until we do that that's tough to answer," he said after watching from the sidelines for two months thanks to an injured foot.
"Until we show that we can move on from being undisciplined at times and all that stuff, I think that's going to be a question mark."
If the Bombers fall flat Friday, their losing streak will stretch to five.
Hamilton (4-7) snapped its own five-game losing streak last week when it pounded Edmonton 51-8. The Eskimos are the other team on Winnipeg's short win list.
"I hope it makes us feel better about ourselves, I know that, and that usually makes you have more confidence," said Hamilton coach George Cortez.
"They say winning solves all problems . . . We are disappointed we don't have more wins and we are looking to get some now."
The Bombers capitalized on turnovers to beat Hamilton 32-25 for their second win of the season Aug. 16, after edging Edmonton by a point two weeks earlier.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris remembers the game well, since his four fumbles resulted in three of those turnovers, and says he's taken some lessons in ball carrying to prevent a repeat.
"It's definitely a game I haven't forgot," he said.
He's not expecting the Bombers to make life easier for him this time.
"We know this team. They're going to come out of the locker-room playing like some crazy dogs, you know, a desperate team looking to do whatever it takes to get a victory," he said. "We're only two games up on them and we're . . . as desperate as they are."
Since that last Winnipeg win, slump doesn't begin to describe the Bombers' situation -- and they're failing on both sides of the ball.
This month, they've scored a total of 27 points and given up 121 in three losses, digging themselves deeper into the CFL cellar.
Backup quarterback Joey Elliott was no more successful than Alex Brink as they waited for Pierce to recover from a foot injury, and the slide cost head coach Paul LaPolice his job.
They haven't had a single offensive touchdown in their last three games. Demond Washington produced their only touchdown on a 114-yard punt return Sept. 9 in a close game against Saskatchewan, which the Bombers lost by one frustrating point.
All-star linebacker Jovon Johnson says with all the player changes, the defence just has no chemistry this season. Last season's Bomber "Swaggerville" defence was one of the best in the CFL and Johnson was named the league's outstanding defensive player.
"Defences in this league are what makes the teams go, so if you don't have chemistry on defence it's going to be a long season," he said
"Right now we've just got to get better, each aspect of the game."
About the only ray of sunshine is that fans seem to keep coming out. The Bombers have had sellouts or near-sellouts for every home game.
Interim Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke hasn't lost his sense of humour at least.
"Certainly there shouldn't be any overconfidence at this point," he said Thursday.
"We've had very good practices this week, so it's a matter of what team shows up tomorrow."