Don Matthews can see past the disappointment, past the come-from-ahead loss, past the missed opportunity to go two games up on his chief division rival.
The coach of the Baltimore CFLs can see all the way to Oct. 29, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers come to Baltimore for a Week 17 showdown that could hold Eastern Division playoff implications.
"We're disappointed we lost," Matthews said yesterday of a 39-32 loss to the Bombers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "We felt it was a winable game. And that's encouraging. If Winnipeg is the team to beat in our division, certainly we are competitive with any team in our division.
"We're measuring ourselves a little bit. When we play [Winnipeg] later in the year, we'll be a better team. Our team will be judged at the end of the year. Victories are way more important in October than July."
There were mixed reviews to Thursday's defeat, in which Matt Dunigan triggered a 29-point Bombers run to steal the game after the CFLs opened a 25-10 lead early in the second half.
"There's no consolation in losing," said quarterback Tracy Ham, who has eight touchdown passes and only one interception after four games. "I'm upset because we lost."
Free safety Michael Brooks, though, saw something of a silver lining.
"They [the Bombers] have been dominating the East. They're the team to beat," Brooks said. "We came out the first half and showed we're a team that deserves respect. They came back and showed what it takes to dominate the East."
Said cornerback Karl Anthony: "We've got a lot of work to do."
Thursday's problem areas appear correctable. Baltimore's pass rush, for instance, got shut out after collecting five sacks against Shreveport the week before. It was attributable to Winnipeg's blocking scheme.
"They kept seven in, we rushed four," Matthews said. "They double-teamed three of our four front rushers. A lot of times we had great coverage. Dunigan rifled some darts in there that I'm not sure other people would've thrown."
Dunigan passed for 435 yards, 312 and four touchdowns after halftime. The first half ended with Baltimore getting flagged for three pass interference penalties in the span of six defensive plays.
The CFLs' offense had its share of problems in the second half, too. Ham completed 13 of 20 for 199 in the first half, then hit seven of 16 for 89 yards in the second. Conspicuous by their absence in the second half were wide-out Walter Wilson and running back Mike Pringle. Wilson had six catches for 85 yards in the first half, none in the second. Pringle ran 12 times for 51 yards in the first half, then ran once for 11 yards in the second.
"They made plays, we didn't," Matthews said. "We missed some passes that would've kept drives alive."
NOTES: Team owner Jim Speros said he will complain to the league about the playing of loud music during Baltimore's final possession when it had a chance to tie. "I was not happy with that," he said. "When we had the ball on the last drive, they turned the music up full blast. No way you can tell me that was by accident." . . . Ham suffered a sprain to his left foot in the first half, but it did not hinder his running -- he had a 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
CFLs SUED OVER SEASON-TICKET SALES
Baltimore's Canadian Football League team has been sued by a company that claims it is owed nearly $70,000 for helping to sell season tickets.
Success Holdings Inc. of Baltimore filed suit Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court alleging the CFL team breached a contract with the company to share 12 percent of the revenues generated through a season-ticket sales campaign.
The company says it was hired in February to contact fans who asked to reserve season tickets before they officially went on sale. Fans reserved 11,831 tickets this way, and were placed on a "gold list" for priority seating.
Success said it obtained $50 deposits for 9,415 season tickets, billed the team $66,150 but the team refused to pay.
"We made them an offer that we thought was fair. There was no official contract," said team owner James Speros. He said the two sides still are talking and he hopes to settle the matter.