There comes a time in a person’s life when they reach their breaking point. Where their resolve is tested and their true colours are exposed for all to see.
You either rise to the occasion or you dissolve under the pressure. This past Friday, the Montreal Alouettes not only rose to the occasion but these Birds of Prey soared higher than ever.
The Alouettes walked into arguably the most intimidating place to play in the Canadian Football League and absolutely pasted the Ottawa RedBlacks right in front of their fans, handing them their worst defeat of the 2016 season by a 43-19 score. I’m reluctant to apply the over-used “statement win” expression here, but there’s really no better way to describe this Alouettes victory, their third of this season.
Montreal came into this barn and punched Ottawa square in the face. Then did it again. And again. And again. As Montreal’s players waylaid numerous tackles and blocks onto their opponents, you had to wonder if the Alouettes’ beleaguered coaching staff felt like they were also throwing imaginary punches of their own to all of their critics. With every great play call leading to something positive, be it points on the board, strong defensive stops or turnovers, Montreal played like a team with nothing left to lose.
He’s faced his fair share of criticism, but Alouettes QB Kevin Glenn was an absolute surgeon on the field this past Friday. Going an incredible 25 of 30 and throwing for 382 yards is a very solid outing alone, but Glenn managed to throw an astonshing FIVE touchdowns against the RedBlacks. He also handed off to B.J. Cunningham, who turned on the jets and scored his first rushing touchdown (!) for the Alouettes.
Glenn lobbed TD passes to Nik Lewis, Samuel Giguere, Brandon Rutley and also found Ottawa’s most despised opponent Duron Carter for a pair of touchdowns. There was speculation on whether Carter would even play in this game due to the appeal of his one game suspension. As no decision had been rendered, Duron was permitted to play and he delighted in the opportunity to silence the near 25,000 fans who wanted the self-proclaimed “CFL Villain” to get what they felt was coming to him.
To his credit Duron wasn’t showboating after his two touchdown scores or doing anything to incite this Ottawa crowd, simply letting his actions on the field speak louder than anything he could ever speak out loud. He knows the world is watching him and you can hate him all you want, but his play is what will cement his status as one of the elite receivers in this league.
Duron Carter came back to play for the Montreal Alouettes in order to prove a point and regardless of how you perceive him to be as a persona, he’s hellbent on proving his football worth.
Ottawa simply had no answer for this onslaught. Henry Burris had his way with the Alouettes the last time they played at TD Place, but the grizzled veteran was completely dominated by Montreal’s defense this past Friday. He did manage to throw two touchdowns and pass for over 300 yards as well, but he was also stymied on multiple occasions and sacked five times.
Burris had a lot to prove to his critics as well and while his final numbers were not terrible, this Ottawa team certainly didn’t play like they had Henry’s back 100 percent. Several clutch plays were broken up and despite Burris’ determination to succeed, his teammates simply had few answers for Montreal’s defensive corps. Burris found Chris Williams for a nice TD strike and closed out the first half with a terrific Hail Mary pass to Ernest Jackson, but the Alouettes simply would not be denied on this night.
The chainsaws that cut celebratory “wood cookies”at TD Place after each RedBlacks touchdown were silenced for the remainder of the evening as penalties stopped many potential drives for Ottawa and they turned the ball over several times in the second half. Montreal’s young secondary looked fantastic, knocking down Smiling Hank’s passes and Alouettes DB Jonathon Mincy even picked off the defending MOP to end his night.
Former RedBlack Jovon Johnson was his usual outstanding self, eager to show out against his former teammates. On Ottawa’s opening drive, Chris Milo lined up for a field goal attempt to mark the game’s first points. But it was a ruse as holder Danny O’Brien decided to try and get the first down, if not potentially more, on the fake. Johnson was having none of that and tackled O’Brien immediately for the loss and turnover on downs.
The RedBlacks are never afraid to try to catch teams napping with special teams trickery, but they should have known that Jovon was going to telegraph that move perfectly. After all, he’s seen it numerous times in his two years in the nation’s capital. Ottawa went for broke early and that’s how they ended up on this particular drive. Montreal simply dominated on all aspects of the field this past Friday and walked out of TD Place with their heads held high along with a much-needed divisional win.
All of a sudden, the Alouettes have put the rest of the league on notice that they are far from finished. The whispers of inner turmoil and potential mutiny against head coach/GM Jim Popp have died down for the time being, but this is far from complete. This team still has a lot of work to do but will be getting some reinforcements back for their next game versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this coming Friday.
Both Tyrell Sutton and Kenny Stafford are due to come off the six-game injured list for the Alouettes and they will be looking to make their mark with this hopefully revitalized offense. They will be facing a far different team than the one they battled in Winnipeg during Week #1.
Like the Alouettes, the Bombers have had their share of offensive woes and doubt about the leadership of their head coach to start the season. But they have turned things around and like Montreal, have been a defensive juggernaut the past few weeks. Kevin Glenn played a solid game in the ‘Peg earlier this year, but solid is not going to be good enough this time around.
Glenn will need to have a repeat performance of last Friday’s game if Montreal is going to continue to make headway in an Eastern division that is suddenly rife with parity.
That’s all for now. Alouettes Nation can breathe a sigh of relief after this huge win. It was a much-needed boost of confidence and hopefully a sign of better things to come as the summer starts to wind down.
Be sure to download the latest edition of the Alouettes Flightdeck later this week as Tim Capper and myself discuss this big win and what to expect this coming Friday as the Alouettes prepare to defend the nest against Winnipeg. You can also check out the Alouettes at practice this week if you’re still on summer vacation.
It was a great win but as they say, on to the next one. Thanks for reading.