How do they do it? HOW. DO. THEY. DO. IT?!
A lot of people, myself included, thought the Montreal Alouettes played the CFL Game of the year a few weeks ago when they ended their decade long losing streak at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. It was a thrilling match that required both overtime mini-games for the Alouettes to get a major, major victory.
Well, we’ve been proven dead wrong.
The Alouettes needed all 60 minutes of this football game, but they pulled off an incredible win in front of their biggest home crowd of 2019. Montreal edged the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a score of 38-37 and in doing so created a masterpiece that is worthy of a spot in the Louvre.
The MOP Campaign continues for Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., as he posted some staggering numbers. He went 27 for 43 with a personal best 488 passing yards and four, count ‘em, FOUR touchdown passes! He also scored Montreal’s first touchdown by juking everyone out with a six yard run to the end zone.
Adams was able to find former Bomber Chris Matthews for his first AND second touchdown as an Alouette. The irony of Winnipeg letting Matthews go due to a lack of offensive production is certainly not lost on this blogger. He was also able to find DeVier Posey and Jake Wieneke in the end zone for the scores that would spell victory for the Blue & Red squad.
The last time Chris Streveler walked into Percival Molson Stadium, he helped lead Winnipeg to a lopsided victory. Based on his first half of play, it looked like the Winnipeg pivot was going to repeat that feat. The Blue Bombers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, making the Alouettes defense look foolish and unprepared.
Streveler finished his day by going 19 of 22 with 180 yards passing and a touchdown throw to Darvin Adams. Where Streveler excelled was on the ground, rushing for 84 yards and a trio of touchdowns. The Bombers defense also scored a touchdown to really make things look bad for this Alouettes defense. But as we learned time and time again in the Canadian Football League, it’s not over until it’s over.
At the 5:21 mark of the third quarter, the Bombers led this game by TWENTY-FOUR points thanks to a forced fumble of Vernon Adams by Craig Roh that allowed Kyrie Wilson to scoop up the ball and score. For an Alouettes team that looked listless and beaten all day long, this was the peak of bleakness.
But the Alouettes faithful held on, refusing to give up on these cardiac kids. The players responded in kind. The defense finally stopped letting the Bombers walk all over them, forcing two and outs. Then like always seems to do, Vernon Adams put on his hard hat and went to work.
Adams found Chris Matthews for a touchdown to give the crowd something to cheer for. And then found him again to breathe life back into the stadium. The 19,000 fans in the stadium probably didn’t realize it, but it appeared that Adams had once again “flipped the switch” that allowed these Alouettes to come back and win football games in heart-stopping fashion.
That was until Adams threw a ball right into the hands of former Alouette Jeff Hecht. At that point, a few folks decided that the game was finished and headed for the exit. But this Alouettes team wasn’t finished yet. This defense knew it had to get their QB the ball again and that’s what they did.
Vernon and his receivers didn’t waste this gift, as they engineered a seven play drive that ended with DeVier Posey scoring a touchdown. The Alouettes were now down by six, but time was not their friend. They could ill afford a misstep against this talented Blue Bombers squad. This Alouettes defense has looked mostly great this season and despite a rough go of it in the first half of this spirited affair, they kicked things into gear.
The defense was able to stymie both Streveler and Andrew Harris, who ran all over the Alouettes in response to the smack talk delivered by John Bowman over his two game suspension due to a failed drug test. The Bombers needed these men to deliver, but it was clear that the Alouettes were not going to be denied. Not in their house in front of their loud, raucous fans who would crank the noise up to an ear-splitting level when this defense was on the field.
Montreal got the ball back with 1:04 left on the game clock and needing a touchdown to tie plus a successful PAT to take their first lead of the game. Vernon’s first pass went nowhere but his second moved the chains. Then Adams decided to go for a first down run of his own. Then he lined up and made the play of the game, connecting with Quan Bray for a 60 yard catch and run that put Montreal in the red zone.
Adams’ next pass was incomplete. But with 0:11 left on the clock, Adams stepped back and fired the ball into the end zone, right into the waiting hands of Jake Wieneke. The stadium erupted as the Alouettes once again erased a deficit in jaw-dropping fashion. A successful PAT by Boris Bede gave Montreal its first lead of the game.
But six seconds remained on the game clock and they had to kick it to Winnipeg, who was going to have to pull out some kind of miracle. Winnipeg returner Janarion Grant took the ball and PUNTED it forward, hoping an onside Winnipeg player could recover it with a chance to get into the end zone. But his kick sailed out of bound and the clock hit zeros.
Ball game over. Alouettes shocks the CFL world once again with an unbelievable performance. Montreal is now 7-5 and they can lay claim to having beaten the best team in the CFL’s Western division.
Maybe it’s the jet lag from my flight to Ireland after this match, I am still in a state of shock as to what took place Saturday afternoon. Did that really just happen?
Let’s call a spade a spade; based on their first half of play, the Alouettes had no right being in this game. The defense was atrocious with their feeble attempts at tackling and Andrew Harris was making them look foolish, barreling over the defenders at times. The offense was barely able to get anything going and discipline was not a factor at all.
But there is just something about the heart on this Alouettes team; it’s an intangible that cannot be measured. There was no quit. Head Coach Khari Jones has been great at making halftime adjustments, but he can only do so much on the sidelines. The players have to execute when it matters most. And more often than not this 2019 season, that’s exactly what they do.
This team is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Some may consider their success to be pure luck and perhaps some of it may be that. But the way this team rallies around each other is simply incredible; they really do believe that they can win.
And my goodness, it has been so much fun to watch.
Will this team win the Grey Cup? Only time will tell. The Alouettes still haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, but it’s looking to be more and more of a reality. I thought it was a tad bold for them to come out with advertising for the next home game that suggested that the run to the playoffs was on.
But I guess in a way, it really is. Montreal is looking more and more like they will be playing a home playoff game this year for the first time in five seasons.
For a team that is under league ownership and that threw their head coach and general manager out the door, this was definitely unexpected. People doubted this team and they’ve had to eat their words, time and time again.
The dumpster fire has long been extinguished. The circus has relocated to another city. Those same doubters have now come on board and they are loving every minute of this.
Simply put, these Birds are flying higher than ever before.
That’s all for now. The Alouettes will savour this hard-fought win and then prepare for the BC Lions. The game will be played at BC Place, where the Alouettes have rarely tasted victory. They beat the Lions at home a couple of weeks ago and it was not an easy task. The Lions have a long road ahead of them, but they aren’t simply going to roll over and die.
A rare win at BC Place will not only further grow the legend of these 2019 Montreal Alouettes, but will possibly lead to that playoff spot being clinched. This will not be a leisure trip out to the Left Coast. Montreal needs to keep pace with Hamilton and bring that never say die attitude with them.
Be sure to tune into the Alouettes FlightDeck podcast as Tim Capper and myself break down this phenomenal victory over Winnipeg as well as look ahead to that dreaded BC Place matchup. You can find all the episodes here or just search for Alouettes Flightdeck on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher and Spotify.
Folks, we are in exciting times. This Montreal Alouettes team is a legit force to be reckoned with. If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely already on board. If you’re not, you’d be wise to jump on this bandwagon now. It’s going places.
On to the next one. As always, thanks for reading.
GO ALS GO!!!