This past Monday was Thanksgiving…and the Montreal Alouettes found more than one way to serve up a turkey.
After posting wins versus Saskatchewan and Edmonton the Alouettes’ playoff party was put on hold by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, beating the Als 34-27 on a rain-dampened Percival Molson field. I’m not sure if Montreal was looking past Winnipeg and focusing more on the next two games versus Hamilton or what, but the game played this past Monday was another penalty and turnover-filled affair, testing the loyal fans’ patience yet again.
I think we Alouettes supporters can be considered guilty of looking past Winnipeg as well, what with their front office sideshow and inability to win many games this year. But of the Blue Bombers’ 3 victories, TWO have now come versus the Alouettes. In Montreal, no less.
As bad as it was watching the game live, I think watching the replay was worse. Each team seemed to do whatever they could to hand the ball back to their opponent. And right when the Alouettes would build just a little momentum, along came a penalty or a turnover to negate it all. You could taste the frustration in the air from the Alouette faithful as they watched this team fall to 3-5 at home.
Josh Neiswander started the game and did not play like he did in the previous two games, throwing for zero touchdowns and three interceptions. After playing a solid game versus Saskatchewan and easy dismantling Edmonton, he looked like the Josh Neiswander of before, shaky and unable to make much of anything happen.
Troy Smith wasn’t much better in his limited action; He connected with S.J. Green for his first CFL passing touchdown, but he was also picked off as one of SEVEN Montreal turnovers. I will say he is coming along decently and due to injury, has seen more playing time than he probably should have. How he approaches this off-season will be very telling if Smith stays in the league in 2014.
I don’t get the sense from Smith that he thought playing in the CFL was going to be a cakewalk for him, having been in the NFL and winning the Heisman trophy in college. I think he knew that playing in the CFL would take some getting used to and he’s gone through a bit of a trial by fire in his short tenure north.
He’s accepted being a backup for now, but can Troy prove that he can be a starter to lead this Alouettes team? Or does this almost 30 year old still have NFL aspirations? It looks like he will get the start this Sunday and what play he does get, from now until the end of the season, will surely tell the tale.
Jim Popp has been patiently waiting since 2005 for Smith to come to Montreal; he’s going to give Troy every chance to succeed and not let him just walk away.
Now the Alouettes have the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next for a home and home series. Starting at home this Sunday, the Alouettes can still claim a playoff spot with a win or a loss by Winnipeg. Hosting a playoff game is pretty much a pipe dream and maybe that’s just as well. With such a poor home record, maybe the Alouettes will benefit from the lack of pressure of playing at home.
While fan momentum is always nice, look at the Toronto Argonauts; Thanks to the horrid scheduling at Rogers Centre, they played 4 straight games on the road and miraculously won all four, despite no Ricky Ray or Chad Owens in the lineup. Now while I felt that some of the referees’ calls in those four games were favouring Toronto at times, at the end of the day they got the wins.
After Sunday the Alouettes will go to Guelph, then Toronto to finish the season. And from there, they will go back to one of those cities again. I’m not sure what the winning formula will be to represent the East in 2013. But the Alouettes merely have to make the playoffs. With that proverbial monkey off their back, they can embrace becoming road warriors and in November, anything can happen in the Canadian Football League.
The Argos won the Grey Cup last year at 9-9 and the Calgary Stampeders won a Grey Cup with an 8-10 record in 2001; if the Montreal Alouettes can somehow win these last three games, 9-9 will be their mark for the season. Then it would take some big wins to get to Regina but Montreal has pulled off the big win in crunch time before. Hopefully for Alouettes Nation, this team really is saving their best for last.
After the loss on Monday, the Alouettes went and made the day a little brighter for some of the less fortunate in Montreal. Members of the Alouettes volunteered some of their free time to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Old Brewery Mission. Every year the Alouettes do this and it’s a testament of this organization to recognize the need to leave the community just a little better than it was found.
This Sunday you Alouettes fans can help end this homestand on a positive note by bringing non-perishable food items to the game for Purolator’s Tackle Hunger program. In exchange for a donation of food or money, you can have your picture taken with the Grey Cup. Be sure to help out with a very worthwhile cause.
It will also be the Alouettes’ first CFL Pink game, where players on both teams will be allowed to wear pink accessories in order to show support for breast cancer awareness.
I’m told that there will be pink Alouettes fan gear for sale at the stadium, including hats, t-shirts and more. Proceeds from merchandise sales will go to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation so if you have a chance to help, please do so. We can ensure that the Alouettes remain winners off the field as well!
Lastly, don’t forget that Kyries Hebert is putting on a fundraiser this Friday for Cedars Cancer Institute, a charity which Anthony Calvillo and his wife Alexia have done tireless work for. For more info or to buy tickets, click here.
I sincerely hope it won’t be the last one this season but if you haven’t been already, be sure to check out the Alouettes tailgate party put on by LesGarsQuiVivent.com. This past Monday featured a Thanksgiving feast for fans and I am certain the fellas will have a great setup for this Sunday as well! Be sure to check it out on the eastern side of the stadium before the game starts.
Enjoy the game on Sunday, whether you come out to the stadium or watch from home.
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.