Last week’s game was about taking baby steps. Now, those steps are starting to gain some traction.
No one gave the Montreal Alouettes a snowball’s chance in hell last Saturday versus the defending Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan RoughRiders. In fact, the Riders were favoured by more than 2 touchdowns in their own barn against this seemingly hapless team. But anyone who watched this game got to see a Montreal team hang tough until the bitter end.
Despite losing 16-11 to the Riders, Alouettes Nation now has to feel like they are seeing a pinpoint of light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel. Nobody gave Alouettes QB Alex Brink a fighting chance to play well against Saskatchewan in his first official start for Montreal. But lo and behold, he not only hung around and made plays, but damn near led this Alouettes team to victory.
Had one or two more bounces gone the Alouettes’ way, we could very well have seen the team notch it’s second victory of the season and take sole possession of second place in the CFL’s lowly Eastern division. But instead, the Alouettes once again share that dubious honour with Ottawa and Hamilton.
It was quite the defensive game for three quarters, as both Brink and Darian Durant moved the ball fairly well for their teams but the only points that came about during the first three quarters were from the kickers. Incredibly, the score was 5-4 going into the fourth quarter!
But in the fourth quarter, both teams eventually found the end zone. Durant connected with Rob Bagg for a TD to start the fourth quarter. And just when you thought that Riders kicker Chris Milo was going to drive the final nail in the coffin with a field goal at the 3:34 mark, the ball sailed just wide in the direction of Duron Carter, who took it all the way back 122 yards for a touchdown!
Instead of the score being 15-4 at that pivotal point of the game, it ended up being 12-11. A lot of people chided head coach Tom Higgins for not going for the 2 point convert to tie the game, but he has said numerous times that he will always take the safe points. Perhaps he also felt his luck was already pressed earlier in the game when he had finally won a coach’s challenge!
In the third quarter, Alex Brink was picked off by Macho Harris who appeared to score the game first’s touchdown for Saskatchewan. But Higgins noticed that Harris had pushed himself off S.J. Green to get the ball, so he threw his challenge flag. Admittedly, I groaned because although the evidence was clear on replay that Higgins had a valid argument, the command centre has often thought otherwise this season.
But wouldn’t you know it, they saw it Higgins’ way and negated the TD. Unfortunately, Brink threw another interception right away on the very next play. But whatever QB Coach Jeff Garcia is selling the quarterbacks on this team, Alex Brink at least is surely buying it.
In leading the Alouettes, Brink didn’t look fazed or out of place. He threw interceptions and incomplete passes, but he also made plays happen and kept the Riders D on the field. Again, had one or two more things gone Montreal’s way, this game would have a different ending.
Rider Nation may be crowing about this victory and they should certainly enjoy it, but at the end of the day they certainly weren’t nearly as intimidating as they could or should have been. The Roughriders had many chances to bury the Als and they nearly let this one slip away.
Since a trip to Regina to see the game live wasn’t in the cards for me, I had no choice but to watch the game on TV. It was truly unfortunate as TSN sent Rod Black and Duane Forde to do the play by play. I don’t think anyone is truly a fan of Black’s commentary, but his incredibly biased calling of the game towards Saskatchewan was nauseating, to say the least.
Call it sour grapes on my part if you must, but he sounded practically giddy on every single successful Riders play. I don’t recall the exact penalty that Saskatchewan took at one point, but he was convinced before the call came from the referee that it was against Montreal and was admonishing the Alouettes for the faux pas.
To hear the subdued tone in his voice afterwards when it was in fact the Riders who were penalized was like that of a child who’d been grounded by a parent. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the cheerleaders supposed to be on the sidelines and not in the press box?
And to hear him and Forde tell it, RoughRiders DE John Chick is not only a great football player, but can seemingly walk on water and cure lepers with a touch of his hand. Between the constant tire-pumping and highlight packages of this ONE player, how was Chick able to squeeze his head through the door of the Riders’ dressing room?
It’s one thing for a local radio station to have a slight bias towards the team they are covering but when the NATIONWIDE television broadcast team comes across as being booster club members for one of the two teams that are playing, something has got to give.
Black takes a lot of abuse on social media from CFL fans and for good reason; he really doesn’t sound objective at all and there are numerous instances where he gets the names, plays and other things about the game incorrect. I would have much preferred that Black had taken over the hosting duties of the CFL on TSN pre-game shows instead of Rod Smith, as Black can properly moderate a forum & is actually a great host in metered doses.
Before you say that I’m only pointing all of this out because it goes against the Alouettes, Black does a lot of these things whilst broadcasting other team’s games as well. And yes, RDS focuses primarily on the Alouettes for French-speaking fans but they are far from being cheerleaders for Montreal. If anything, they may even be too critical of them at times so as not to look partisan.
Thanks to one Twitter account, there’s even a drinking game that highlights Rod Black and his many idiosyncrasies while calling a CFL game. While I don’t encourage the abuse of adult beverages, I’d be truly amazed if someone could play this particular game and not succumb to alcohol poisoning afterwards.
I suppose at the end of the day, this is why there is a mute button on the TV’s remote control.
So now the Alouettes will stay out west and prepare for this Friday’s game versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The last time these two met, it was a penalty-filled affair and the Bombers escaped Montreal with a victory by one point. It will also be a homecoming of sorts for Alex Brink, as he started his CFL career in the ‘Peg.
Winnipeg will be rested, having not played since last Tuesday. The Alouettes have a perfect 1-0 record at Investors Group Field and will be looking to add to that mark. Montreal nearly notched win #2 versus these Bombers and now have another chance this Friday to do exactly that.
I’ll be back later this week with a preview of the game. Be sure to follow along on Twitter for more news and other thoughts.
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.