CALGARY -- The last three games the Calgary Stampeders have played have been hotly contested affairs decided by three points or less.
They don't expect tonight's matchup against the B.C. Lions to be any different.
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The Stampeders (2-2) are coming off a thrilling 41-38 overtime win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home last week. Prior to that, they suffered a 33-32 loss to Montreal and a 39-36 defeat to Toronto in games that featured dramatic comebacks.
"With the way the CFL is right now, I couldn't see any game not going down to the wire," said Calgary receiver Nik Lewis, who caught three touchdown passes against the Riders including the game-winning score in overtime. "All the teams are so evenly matched that all the games are going to be great."
Quarterback Kevin Glenn, starting in place of the injured Drew Tate, helped engineer Calgary's comeback victory over the Riders after the tough losses.
"Out of the four games that we've played, three of them have been down to the wire," said Glenn, who took over when Tate suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Argos on July 7. "We've built some kind of familiarity with going down to the wire and playing all 60 minutes. I think it's good. When you can get those kinds of games early in the year, it helps you later in the year."
Veteran B.C. defensive back Korey Banks isn't surprised to see Glenn have success as a starter with the Stamps.
"We definitely know it's a dog-fight ahead of us," said Banks, whose Lions (2-2) are looking to bounce back from a 27-14 setback in Vancouver to the Edmonton Eskimos. "Kevin Glenn is very capable. I don't know why he doesn't get his respect. He's a very capable quarterback. He can go on any team right now and fill in or take over."
In turn, Lewis complimented Banks and the B.C. defence for their play-making abilities.
"They'll be able to capitalize on our mistakes, so we have to minimize the turnovers," Lewis said. "They're a team right now that's looking to make big plays. If they make big plays, they'll be back on that run, so we have to minimize that."
After starting the season with two straight wins, the defending Grey Cup champion Lions dropped a 23-20 decision to the Riders in Regina on July 14 before also losing to the Eskimos at home six days later.
"Both of the last two games that we've lost, we've had opportunities to win those football games in the fourth quarter and we didn't make the plays," said B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay. "I had a critical turnover late in that game last week and that was essentially the difference in the football game."
Lulay, who was picked off twice by the Eskimos, said the Stampeders will be confident after their comeback win last week.
"I put myself in their shoes," he said. "Coming off a win the way they did, that's a big win. That's gut-check to come back and win the way they did on their home turf. They were getting beat soundly in the fourth quarter, and to come back and find a way to make the plays that they did, they showed a lot of grit, a lot of determination, and you've got to admire that. So we know what kind of team we're facing."
The last time the two teams met was on Oct. 8 last season when Paul McCallum kicked a clutch 53-yard field goal as time ran out in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a narrow 33-31 win.
"We've seen it all against Calgary," Lulay said. "It's always a tough, hard-fought battle. We played them right down to the wire and won on literally on the last play of the game last year. The way games are going this year in the CFL, you know that's a very real possibility every single week, so you have to play good all 60 minutes."
Stamps linebacker Juwan Simpson said that if you don't play hard until the final whistle sounds, opposing teams will take advantage of the opportunities that they are given.
"It makes teams understand that when you have an opportunity to put away a team you have to," Simpson said. "You can't relax in this league because (teams) will come back and win."
Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel referred to the matchup as a big game early in the season.
"Usually the B.C.-Calgary matchups consist of really good football," Hufnagel said. "That's the type of game I'm looking forward to ... a game that will be a close game and decided late in the game."
Rookie B.C. coach Mike Benevides agreed.
"It's a huge game for both teams when you take a look at the records (and) you take a look at how tight the west is," Benevides said. "We're going to have to be at our best."