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The Edmonton Eskimos have been saving the date for Sunday’s East Division semifinal against the Montreal Alouettes since Oct. 12.
After punching their playoff ticket with a 19-6 win over the B.C. Lions that day, the Eskimos wrapped up the regular season with a home-and-away series against the West Division-leading Saskatchewan Roughriders.
And while the result of those final two games didn’t make a difference in the standings for an Eskimos squad locked into the crossover spot, they used last week’s 27-24 loss at Mosaic Stadium as a dress rehearsal for the do-or-die round to come.
“It was a playoff game,” Eskimos most outstanding rookie nominee Vontae Diggs said of the atmosphere both in the stands and on the field, where the Roughriders needed the win to finish in first place. “Sask. was playing for something really big and we weren’t just going to roll over and give it to them, by any means. That’s not how we get down on defence, that’s not how we get down as an Eskimo, period, or as an organization.
“We’re going to make you earn whatever you’re going to come after.”
There was a appreciable vibe in the air between two teams that were sitting on the playoff precipice, which manifested itself in more than the usual amount of post-whistle extra-curricular activities.
“They came out swinging, we came out swinging and we ain’t going to get bullied by nobody, period. I don’t care who you are,” said Diggs, whose Eskimos, at 8-10, are the only playoff team with a losing record. “It was good for both teams, especially for us. We showed each other on all eight cylinders that ain’t nobody going to bully us. And I hope that everyone else saw the message.”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019