Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Montreal Alouettes walk into someone else’s barn, thinking they have the game in the bag due to their opposing quarterback’s being injured, along with several starters. They take the lead, get picked off and watch everything fall apart. They then muster a gutsy comeback, only to run out of time and return home with their tails between their legs.
If you answered, “Week 3 versus Calgary“, then you are paying attention. For whatever reason, the Alouettes may have been feeling nostalgic because that’s pretty much how they played this past Friday versus the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos outlasted the Alouettes 30-27 in a game where the score truly compliments the Als’ efforts. Alouettes fans got to see both versions of Vernon Adams under centre, much to their dismay.
For every dazzling play Adams made, it felt there was an equally back-breaking error committed as well. The final stats have VA going 30 of 39 with 382 passing yards and two passing TDs. But Vernon also threw a pair of interceptions that he had absolutely no business even trying to throw. Unless his goal was to complete a pass to those two Argos defenders; in which case, he succeeded and Toronto was able to turn those miscues into points on the board.
Once again, Als rusher William Stanback is proving to be well worth the price of admission alone. The bruising tailback posted another terrific outing stats-wise, racking 133 yards on the ground with 19 carries and even scoring a goal-line touchdown. Stanback currently leads the league in rushing with 618 yards and is showing no signs of stopping. William has credited former Alouette running back Tyrell Sutton (who also led the league in rushing many moons ago) with how he approaches his play on game day and the results are speaking for themselves. Which makes the decision not to lean on him heavily all the more baffling; teams are not able to stop this Long Island native so easily when he has the rock.
To his credit, Adams proved that even when he’s down, he’s not out. Down by 10 late in the fourth quarter, he engineered a drive that gave Alouettes Nation some hope. Starting at their own 5 yard line, Adams quickly marched Montreal down the field. He connected with Jake Wieneke for a massive 49 yard gain that caught the Argos defense napping. One touchdown pass later to Wieneke on the next play and the Alouettes were a field goal away from this game going into overtime.
The ensuing onside kick attempt was no good. But the Alouettes forced the two and out to get the ball back for a shot of at least getting into field goal range. But much like in Calgary a few weeks ago, time on the clock simply ran out for the Birds of Prey. The Alouettes are now 2-4 and will limp into Hamilton next week while the Argos now share first place with those same Tiger-Cats and enjoy a bye week full of positive momentum.
While it’s easy to blame Vernon Adams and his bad reads for this loss, I’d say a big portion of the blame should be placed at the feet of the Alouettes’ secondary. They were roasted numerous times by Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson and a seemingly no-name group of receivers.
At one point, Ricky Collins Jr. must have wanted to pay homage to Argos GM Mike “Pinball” Clemons because he managed to bounce off Adarius Pickett, Monshadrik Hunter and Greg Reid before being taken down at the three yard line. The next play saw running back D.J. Foster rumble in for six to give the Argos back a lead that they would not relinquish.
There were numerous instances throughout this match where this secondary were beaten like they owed someone money. Pickett is a CFL rookie and can be forgiven for slight errors. But Reid is a 2019 CFL all-star. Hunter and Tyquwan Glass are veterans that have made their names as defensive studs. There’s absolutely no reason they should have been blown up the way they were against this backup QB and virtually unknown receiving corps from Toronto.
Despite never beating the Alouettes before and in relief of Nick Arbuckle, Bethel-Thompson played a strong game versus Montreal. He turned in the following: 13/19, 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Former Alouette pivot Antonio Pipkin also saw limited action, going 2/3 and throwing for 34 yards. But it was former Alouette kicker Boris Bede (who was traded to Toronto in the 2020 off-season) who was truly inspired this past Friday night and clearly had revenge on his mind.
Bede went 3 for 3 in field goal attempts and even took a moment to playfully taunt the Alouettes bench after his third successful FG that put the game just out of reach. Bede also sailed some very good punts to pin Montreal deep, reminding the Alouettes brass that he still has a tremendous leg and is using it quite effectively for the Double Blue.
Despite several starters out of the lineup, the Argos found a way to beat Montreal. Or rather, allow Montreal to beat themselves yet again. There’s a lot to be said for the ability to come back the way that Vernon Adams and company did, but it’s not worth a hill of beans if you don’t get the W. There are no style points in the Canadian Football League and moral victories don’t get included in the standings.
It should be noted that Adams also appeared to be favouring the ribs on his right side at one point, but that cannot be used as an excuse for the mental errors that he made on the two picks he threw. This game came down to opportunities and who was better able to capitalize on them. This past Friday, the Argos played the hand they were dealt a lot better. Just like versus Calgary, Montreal was in control and let their mistakes get the better of them and cost themselves a victory.
The schedule really doesn’t get easier for Montreal, despite facing the Ottawa RedBlacks three more times this year. I don’t think 5-9 will be enough to sneak into the playoffs this season, even with both Alberta teams struggling and not likely to cross over. The Alouettes need to find a way to beat one of these top-tier teams that they’ll soon be playing. Otherwise, this will become a lost season of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens for Montreal. And those don’t sell future tickets or merch.
That’s all for now. The Alouettes will have to rebound and they get the privilege of playing the East-leading Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field this coming Saturday, where the Tabbies have yet to lose a game in 2021.
Be sure to check out the Alouettes Flightdeck podcast as Tim Capper and myself break down this loss to the Argos and look ahead to Hamilton. You can find the podcast here and on your favourite podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio and even on Youtube! Search using the key words “Alouettes Flightdeck” just about anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Once again, it’s on to the next one. As always, thanks for reading.