“We can be heroes….just for one day.” — David Bowie
This has not been the greatest season for the Montreal Alouettes. Even their most ardent fans would have a hard time arguing this point. But this past Sunday provided the Birds of Prey one final opportunity to justify their fans’ support.
The Montreal Alouettes needed a win this past Sunday….and they got it. They handed the Toronto Argonauts a beating to the tune of 40-10. After letting the game slip away from them last week in Toronto, the Alouettes wanted to make a statement against their divisional foes.
Neither team is going to the Grey Cup playoffs this year. They both sit as equals in the basement of the CFL’s Eastern division. But with this game being not only their final home game of 2018 but also Fan Appreciation Day, the Alouettes wanted this one badly and didn’t want to leave any doubt that they weren’t who people thought they were.
The win was the first career CFL win for Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel, who played the first half and was able to coast to victory on the total team performance. He went 7/14 for 139 with one TD and ZERO interceptions. He was replaced in the second half by Antonio Pipkin, who went 5/10 and also threw a touchdown pass.
Montreal’s ground game was established by William Stanback, who averaged nearly 7 yards per carry and catching a pair of touchdowns from both of his QBs. It was also the coming out party for fellow rookie tailback Lawrence Pittman, who ran roughshod over the Boatmen as well. With six carries for 60 yards, Pittman made his case to be included more in the Alouettes backfield.
Two members of the Alouettes’ receiving corps had themselves a day, with Eugene Lewis not only hauling in a pair of choice receptions, but also throwing one for a touchdown. You read that correctly; Eugene Lewis THREW a pass for a touchdown. On a gadget play, Lewis caught a lateral from Manziel and heaved it SIXTY-ONE yards to a wide open George Johnson to put momentum firmly in Montreal’s favour.
With the win, the Alouettes will finish with a slightly better record than they did last season. They also win the season series versus the Argos and set a personal best for points scored in a single game this season. It was a complete victory from start to finish.
The tone for the day was set early on with the coin toss. The team captains for this final event were four battle-tested warriors that were likely going to play their last game at Percival Molson Stadium. If you were looking for the embodiment of what it meant to be a Montreal Alouette, you needn’t look any further than these men: Chip Cox, John Bowman, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain and Stefan Logan.
Father Time remains undefeated and while these men have kept him at bay for quite some time, you got the sense right away that this final home game was the closing of a very storied chapter. These men gave their all for the honour of wearing these colours and they were going to go out on their terms, no matter what. These men were determined to make their fans’ last memories of them to be great ones.
And did they ever!! Logan’s finest moment of 2018 came nearly a month ago when he took a punt return back for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But on Sunday, Stefan reminded us of what made him great; his heart and determination to get those return yards. It was on display again and the fans ate it up. Logan is not the bolt of lightning that he once was but he still managed to rack up yards and show flashes of the man who opposing teams hated kicking to on game day.
Cox has taken a lot of lumps for his play not being nearly as dominant as it was just a few short years ago. Many have questioned whether he was still that fierce player of yesterday or just a reasonable facsimile running on fumes. Chip doesn’t strike the same fear he used to but as this 2018 season has progressed, we’ve been seeing bits of that fiery Chip Cox of yesteryear. This past Sunday saw him register five defensive tackles and even a quarterback sack! On every single game day, this man comes into work every week with his hard hat/lunch pail mentaility and he has given it his all.
When it comes to offensive linemen, they really are the unsung heroes when things go right and the biggest goats when things go wrong. For any of them to truly stand out means that they have accomplished quite a bit both on and off the field. Brodeur-Jourdain has certainly done that, being one of the most prolific faces in Quebec football.
The centre is a very challenging position to play and he mastered it, anchoring this offensive line and helping whomever his quarterback was achieve success. Injuries have slowed this mighty warrior in the twilight of his career, but the impact LBJ has left on this team is second to none. Luc replaced a legend at centre in Bryan Chiu and whoever the successor is for LBJ will have to be prepared to replace yet another Alouettes legend.
Bowman told CFL.ca in a recent interview that he was “98% sure” that 2018 was his last season in the league. If that’s the case, then he sure as hell made his last game in Montreal a memorable one! Despite being the true veteran on this defensive line (this is probably the nicest way that I can say he’s not a young man anymore!), John was a house afire against the Argos. Not only did he manage to sack Argos QB James Franklin (the 126th of his career!) but Bowman also managed two fumble recoveries, the second one being a touchdown.
Yes, that is correct: John effing Bowman scored a touchdown in his final game at Percival Molson Stadium!! But most importantly he finished this game with a win and on top of the world, turning in a defensive performance for the ages.
It has been an honour and a privilege to know these men and watch them do what they do on game day. Together and individually, they have left an indelible mark on this organization and this city. This past Sunday, they reminded us all of a time when these Alouettes were THE team to fear in the CFL and that anyone who crossed them was going to be taught a lesson.
These warriors gave us the greatest gift of all in their time and dedication to this sport and just saying thank you to them doesn’t feel like nearly enough. But we do thank them. For everything they gave and for everything they did as members of the Montreal Alouettes. We were truly the lucky ones.
With the win, Montreal sits at 4-13 and will close the 2018 regular season against a Hamilton Tiger-Cats team that will be playoff-bound. Hamilton will likely rest their starters as this game has ZERO implications on the standings or anything else. Montreal will be playing for pride and to see what they have in their ranks as well, depth-wise.
This will also be the return of Johnny Manziel to Hamilton, where he started his CFL career but never saw the field in a regular season game. I can’t imagine Manziel getting as fired up for this game as he would have under better circumstances, but perhaps there is a small part of him that would want to show up his former squad. Hopefully he and the Alouettes will fare better than the last trip to Tim Hortons Field one year ago, where the Als failed to notch a SINGLE point in their 2017 swan song versus the Tabbies.
This game is essentially an audition for 2019. A win won’t really change much in many people’s eyes. But if somehow the Alouettes can hand the Tiger-Cats a loss and ride off into the sunset with a 5-13 record, that in and of itself would be a major victory. Let’s not forget some media pundits had this team finishing 0-18 at the start of the season.
There will be changes this off-season. This is not a winning football team and something has to give. But we’ll explore that when the time comes. Right now, Alouettes Nation can savour a fourth win and allow a great performance to be etched into their minds…..
If just for one day. Thanks for reading.