Hold on to your hats, Alouettes Nation…..we are tied for first place!!
This past Friday, no one can say they didn’t get their money’s worth at Percival Molson Stadium. Not only did the game all the field require all 60 minutes but with the penalty flag flying all night, it felt like Friday Night Football was going to finally end on Saturday morning!
In spite of all that the Montreal Alouettes fought hard and executed their plan, but ultimately lost 34-33 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This was a game that they more or less dominated but ultimately couldn’t close. So now the Alouettes will head out to BC Place this weekend and will face a Lions team that they easily handled two weeks ago, but that always beats Montreal at home.
Anyone blaming Troy Smith for this past Friday’s loss needs to re-evaluate. He threw for three touchdowns, completed over 50% of his passes for over 300 yards. Yes, he did throw a pick six and his one fumble led to a touchdown for Winnipeg. Much like they did for Anthony Calvillo back in the day, the O-Line has to give Smith the protection needed to complete passes. But overall, Smith has come a long way since the debacle in Calgary and he will only get better as the season progresses.
At the end of the day, Montreal’s defense needed to shut down Winnipeg on third down on a number of occasions and simply couldn’t. A one point loss isn’t as bad as a blowout, but a loss still shows in the record books. Give a quarterback like Drew Willy any sort of chance to shut the door on you and he ultimately will. He did it to Ottawa the week previous and last Friday he did it to Montreal.
Troy Smith will now be the answer to the trivia question, “Who did Chad Johnson catch his first CFL touchdown from?” as the two connected for the first of three Alouette TDs. Also joining Chad in the end zone was S.J. Green and Kenny Stafford, the cousin of Duron Carter. Stafford was quite versatile last Friday, making plays and gaining yards both rushing and receiving. With Carter out due to an ankle injury, Stafford looks to pick up the slack and along with Brandon London, has been quite the pleasant surprise.
Everyone expects S.J. to make the highlight reel catch when it matters the most and also expect Ocho Cinco to light up the scoreboard. But London and Stafford can also give opposing defenses several headaches as well. There’s no way to effectively cover all of these players AND contend with Brandon Whitaker’s foot speed as well.
Smith will still need to work on his accuracy and Noel Thorpe’s defensive charges will have to keep this last game in mind the next time they are facing a 3rd down. You can’t give your opponents any sort of life in this Canadian game.
So how did the White-out promotion go, you ask? On the TV side of things, it didn’t look too bad. I still think the team needed to really promote the heck out of this. Having white t-shirts for sale was good and I was told that they sold like hotcakes, but having one given to each fan as they walked in would have looked a lot better aesthetically on TV.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day, since some major sponsor would have had to pony up to achieve what I just outlined. But maybe that becomes a tradition every year, designating one game to be a “white-out” or a “red-out” game for the fans to get behind. For example, I’d really like to see the upcoming Thanksgiving game go either all-red or all-black with the team wearing its much lauded black alternate uniforms.
Imagine Rider Nation invading Percival Molson Stadium on October 13th with their usual green and then encountering a “sea of red” or even a “black hole”! But for this to be 100% effective, you have to get the word out early and often. And to everyone, not just on social media. A grassroots effort like this takes time and an effective strategy. But properly executed, it can be pretty awesome.
Suffice to say that I’m all for any sort of event or happening that gets the fans involved in the match itself.
So now the Alouettes will shake off Friday’s heartbreak and focus on going out west and getting a crucial win versus the BC Lions, who managed to pull out a win versus the Saskatchewan RoughRiders. The Lions are not a team to take lightly, even despite the convincing win at home two weeks ago.
I’ve talked in the past about how difficult it has been for Montreal to win in BC Place but the excuses and worrying about the past have to stop. Winning is key here and these victories against Western opponents are so important this season. The East division is very winnable and Montreal is far too talented to just merely get by.
I’ll be back later this week with a preview of Saturday’s game. If you are in Montreal’s East End and wanting to catch our boys at practice, here’s all the info you need.
And a special shoutout to Jamaan Webb of the Alouettes, who broke his arm last Friday. I’ve been very critical of his play in the pre-season, but he’s been focused as of late. This will be just a minor setback for him.
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.