NEWS
10/21/2011 05:06 EDT | Updated 12/21/2011 05:12 EST

Buck Pierce and Bombers offence looking for rhythm against Alouettes

WINNIPEG - Buck Pierce knows 143 yards passing doesn't cut it.

That was the season-low output the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback and his receivers produced last week in a loss to Edmonton that featured dropped balls and two passes that were tipped for interceptions.

With the Montreal Alouettes (10-5) in town Saturday and first place in the CFL East Division on the line, Pierce is aiming to get the Bomber offence back on track.

"It's imperative that we do," Pierce said Friday after his team's (9-6) final game preparations.

"We have to go out and we have to execute and play four quarters of football. We need to keep (Alouettes quarterback) Anthony (Calvillo) on the sidelines."

A victory by Montreal clinches first place. A Bombers win gives them the three-game season series and the advantage if the clubs are tied at the end of the season.

"There's always been a point where a game would clinch," Calvillo said before arriving in Winnipeg. "We've been here before. It's just been a while that it's been this late.

"We control our destiny now. We were looking up at both Winnipeg and Hamilton and we found a way to leapfrog in front of them with hard work, discipline and making the least amount of mistakes."

The two-time defending Grey Cup champions are on a four-game winning streak, while the Bombers have lost three of their last four.

"It's one of the most important games we've had around here in a long time," Winnipeg slotback Terrence Edwards said.

"A lot is on the line. It's not the end of the world if we don't win, but it takes a step in the right direction."

The seven-year veteran wants to play a big role in a victory.

In the 24-10 loss to the Eskimos, the team's leading receiver didn't have one pass thrown his way in the first half and finished the game with four receptions for 36 yards and no touchdown.

The week before, in a 33-17 win over Hamilton, Edwards had two catches for 12 yards. His last 100-yard game was Sept. 11 against Saskatchewan when he hauled in six passes for 123 yards.

"I wish I got more opportunities to go out and make plays," said Edwards, who's eighth among league receivers with 53 catches for 907 yards and eight TDs. "Last week was frustrating. For the whole first half not a ball come your way to help your team.

"But in more ways than one, I'm not the type of person to go out and run my mouth in the media or Twitter or Facebook or even go running to the coaches."

While the coverage on him sometimes dictates whether the ball is thrown his way, Edwards acknowledged the offence wasn't in a good rhythm last week and hopefully that'll change against the Als.

His quarterback agrees.

"You always want to get Terrence the football, but a lot of teams know that as well," Pierce said. "We feel good in what we have going into this week. A lot of our other guys have stepped up because Terrence is getting extra attention from defences.

"We're going to try to put everybody in a good position to catch the football."

Pierce has been spreading the ball around this season.

Cory Watson, who had two passes bounce off his fingers last week into the hands of Eskimo defenders, has a team-high 60 catches for 714 yards. Rookie Clarence Denmark has 52 receptions for 697 yards.

Montreal's offence features the league leaders for passing, receiving and rushing.

Calvillo has thrown for 4,609 yards with 31 TDs, Jamel Richardson has grabbed 100 catches for 1,559 yards and 11 TDs and Brandon Whitaker has 191 carries for 1,186 yards and two TDs.

The Alouettes are expecting Winnipeg's defence to be primed for the crucial contest.

"They don't play man to man against everybody, but they play it against us so we have to be ready to win our matchups," Montreal head coach Marc Trestman said. "We're not going to win them all because they're good enough to win some. We've got to stay at it. Our guys are challenged by that.

"We'll win some battles and they will, but we've just got to keep on playing."

Als receiver Kerry Watkins is looking forward to the battle for the ball.

"It's just mano-a-mano. Just win your matchup," he said.

"We have the attitude where we're going win our matchup every time. We won't be denied. That's the attitude we're supposed to take, that we feel there's no one that can cover us in man-to-man coverage.

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With files from Bill Beacon in Montreal.