If you’re going to lose, you may as well entertain the masses while doing so.
Yesterday afternoon, while many Canadians gorged themselves on turkey and all the fixings, the Montreal Alouettes did all they could to get this season back on track. The Toronto Argonauts were the only thing that stood in the way of their sixth victory. And while it didn’t feel like it at times, yesterday’s game provided a fair bit of entertainment, with action right up until the last second.
Even though Montreal lost to the Boatmen by a final score of 25-17, there were definitely some glimmers of hope. For a team that is still struggling to find its way on offense, the Alouettes were able to put points on the board and move the ball downfield. Problem is, once again they managed to score points when it was late in the fourth quarter and the hopes of winning had pretty much faded. As a result, this Alouettes team will now finish this season without a winning record for the third year in a row.
It didn’t help the cause when Rakeem Cato was knocked out of the game by a hard tackle late in the first half. While Cato didn’t exactly wow everyone with his play yesterday, he still managed to keep Montreal competitive while completing 75% of his passes. Cato left the game with what considered being a concussion, but after the game yesterday all he would say was that he had a headache but that he was going to be fine.
I have no doubt physically Cato will recover from this setback but there still seems to be a governor on this young man’s play, as though the venom has been taken from this cobra’s bite. But with the joy of having two offensive coordinators comes not knowing who is at fault here. Anthony Calvillo is calling the plays, so is this pedantic football from Cato on him? Or is it Ryan Dinwiddie who’s keeping this team firmly in the loss column?
With Cato out, in comes Anthony Boone as QB for the Alouettes. He came in relief of Cato twelve days previous during the game in Ottawa and managed to throw for a pair of garbage-time touchdowns. Apparently he set a number of quarterback records when he played for Duke University. Unfortunately, Boone’s stout frame has led many Alouettes fans to suggest that perhaps the only records he’d be capable of shattering are those of chicken wing-eating contests.
The strength of Boone’s brief play versus the RedBlacks was enough to convince Jim Popp to make him the official backup to Cato going into Week 16. But the former Blue Devil just managed to go 6 of 12 for 51 yards, including overthrowing the ball past S.J. Green numerous times. While Green is still one of the better receivers playing this game and can seemingly catch anything, he’d have to be 10 feet tall to bring in what Boone was lobbing towards him!
Faced with little else as this game was getting away from the Alouettes, Popp summoned Tanner Marsh, who hasn’t been the QB saviour that many people including myself had hoped for. Relegated to mostly third down duties again this season, it was up to Marsh to come in and at least make this a respectable outing for Montreal. And despite fumbling in his first series and throwing an interception on his second series, Marsh settled down and actually gave this Alouettes team some hope.
With the help of some outstanding catches by Samuel Giguere and S.J. Green, Tanner was able to march the Alouettes downfield and eventually connect with B.J. Cunningham for a touchdown. Along with a successful onside kick recovery by Montreal’s special teams (Thank you, Kavis Reed!), Marsh was given another chance to do what seemed to be impossible all day long; Win The Play.
Alas, much like versus Ottawa and even Saskatchewan in weeks previous the Alouettes waited far too long to score points of any significance. The makings are there for a successful team and I have said on numerous occasions that this team has far too much talent on it to be playing so poorly. As they prepare for Hamilton this coming Sunday, Montreal needs to focus on what made them mostly competitive with the Argos yesterday and bring that against the Tabbies.
Whether you think they deserve to be or not, the Alouettes are in contention for a crossover playoff spot. And they may actually land it by sheer attrition. They currently have the same record as the BC Lions, but the Lions have a tough schedule upcoming (@ EDM, vs HAM, @ TOR, vs CGY). Winnipeg is a mere two games back, but must face the Ottawa Redblacks twice and after their bye week, finish the season playing the Argos.
All Montreal has to do to claim that crossover spot would be to have a better overall record than either the Lions or Blue Bombers. Being tied won’t cut it; the Alouettes have to be better. They have to score points in all four quarters, not wait until the last possible minute on the game clock to score touchdowns that only serve to pad one’s stats.
A lot of questions will have to be answered by this Alouettes organization when this season ends, whether it’s closer to the end of November or even if it ends on November 8th as many fully anticipate it to. But for now, this team can only approach things one game at a time. In the playoffs, anything can happen. The team with the best record doesn’t always win the big game at the end. Sometimes, all you have to do is show up.
Montreal crossing over to the West and defeating both Alberta-based teams certainly would be the picture-perfect definition of the term “long shot”. And as much as I want to be positive about even the scantest of hopes for this team, just getting to the playoffs themselves will not be so easy. But it is doable, despite all the woes that have befallen Quebec’s sole CFL franchise in 2015.
This will be a short week of practice for the Birds of Prey but if you want to show them how much you appreciate their tireless work on the field, here’s the schedule.
My hope for yesterday’s game was that the Alouettes didn’t serve up a turkey of their own. But I’d be lying if I thought my post-game heartburn was restricted only to the deep-fried goodness I consumed at the tailgate yesterday before kickoff.
As they say, on to the next one.
GO ALS GO!!!