Playoff spot not enough for hungry Lions 0
B.C. Lions Andrew Harris (33) runs with the ball during CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. Friday, September 27/ 2013. (QMI AGENCY)
Put a check mark next to "make the playoffs" on the list of annual goals for B.C. Lions.
Next up: winning the division title.
But to do so, the second-ranked Leos have a tough road ahead of them — starting with this Friday's rematch against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The last time these two squads met two weeks ago, it was B.C. coming away with a nail-biting last-second victory in Regina. They've won another since then — improving to 9-4 on the season and extending their win streak to three games.
Although still without quarterback Travis Lulay, the team can at least build on their dominant performance over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last weekend and take confidence from knowing they are post-season bound.
"At the end of it, everybody plays to get a chance to get into the dance," head coach Mike Benevides said. "Getting into the playoffs is always goal number two, goal number one is to play better football every single week, and learn and get better.
"Certainly 17 years in a row is something that the organization can be proud of."
But just making the playoffs isn't enough. The Lions are two points back of the Calgary Stampeders for first in the West and two points up on the Riders — making this a rather crucial and exciting final stretch.
"We want that bye, we want that home field advantage," running back Andrew Harris said. "We play so great at BC Place so we know how much that means to us.
"We basically control our own destiny now so these next five games will be huge for us."
To add some sizzle to what should be a hot showdown at BC Place, Friday's game marks the return of Geroy Simon back to Vancouver. And you can expect a mixture of cheers and jeers for the popular slotback as he steps onto Lions turf for the first time while wearing green and white.
The 38-year-old veteran also comes back as the league's all-time receptions leader after setting the mark last week with the 1,108th catch of his 15-year career — surpassing former Montreal Alouettes receiver Ben Cahoon.
"It was nice to see that he got that," Benevides said of Simon. "There will be a lot of mixed emotions, certainly be thrilled to see him and I know there will be a lot of fans out there that want to see him back in our house.
"I'm sure it'll be difficult for him … but he's in a good place and we all love him. It'll be a special night for sure."
Note: A day after being named defensive player of the week, Adam Bighill was crowned defensive player of the month. The Lions linebacker finished September with 29 defensive tackles — and five more on special teams — an interception, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown.