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The Montreal Alouettes (8-6) host the B.C. Lions (11-3) today in a rematch of one of the most dramatic games of the CFL season.
The Lions defeated the Alouettes 27-26 at B.C. Place Stadium in Week 13 after Montreal head coach Don Matthews decided to attempt a two-point convert instead of a game-tying single in the dying seconds of regulation. Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo could not connect with Ben Cahoon in the end zone, and the Lions ran out the clock for their 11th victory in a row.
A lot has changed since then. The Lions have lost three straight games and find themselves having to deal with quarterback issues after having an excess of quality pivots on their roster. Dave Dickenson, who was 27-of-36 passing for 314 yards and three touchdowns against the Als, is out after suffering a head injury against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a Week 15 loss. Buck Pierce injured his knee in a loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thanksgiving Monday and will be an emergency quarterback against the Alouettes.
That leaves the starting role to Casey Printers, last year's CFL Most Outstanding Player. But Printers is coming off a shoulder injury, and didn't appear to be 100 percent when he faced the Blue Bombers. Jarious Jackson will be the Lions' backup pivot.
The Alouettes are far from having quarterback problems. Calvillo is having his typically great season, and is on pace for another 5,000 passing yards. Since the loss in Vancouver, the Als have won three straight contests.
Duncan O'Mahony has lost his place kicking job to former Stampeder Mark McLoughlin. O'Mahony missed on a field goal on Thanksgiving after missing on three attempts the week before. He will remain with the Lions as their punter. Montreal's Damon Duval is second in the CFL in field goal percentage at 78 percent entering Week 17.
The Lions have won six straight games against the Als dating back to 2002. The Lions defeated the Als 32-29 in a meeting at Percival Molson Stadium last October.
B.C. is already heading to the 2005 post-season, but can clinch a home playoff game with a victory today. With the Edmonton Eskimos' win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Esks are only two points back of the Lions for first place in the West Division.
The Alouettes are currently tied with the Toronto Argonauts for first place in the East Division. The Als can't clinch a playoff berth today, but can move one step closer. The Argos visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers later in the afternoon. Montreal has finished first in the East Division in each of the last three seasons and has made the playoffs every year since 1996, a streak of nine straight seasons.
Today's game features the top two coaches in CFL history. Montreal's Don Matthews and B.C.'s Wally Buono have 386 regular season victories between them. Buono played linebacker for the Alouettes between 1972 and 1981, never missing a game in 10 seasons.
This is the final game of the regular season to be played at Percival Molson Stadium. The Als are expected to play in front of their 62nd straight sellout on the campus of McGill University. The Alouettes will host the Argonauts next Saturday at Olympic Stadium.
Today's game can be seen on TSN and RDS starting at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT). Follow live play-by-play on CFL.ca.
Player Comparisons (2005 statistics):
Passing: Casey Printers (B.C.) 692 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; Anthony Calvillo (MTL) 4542 yards, 23 touchdowns, 13 interceptions.
Rushing: Antonio Warren (B.C.) 741 yards, 11 touchdowns; Robert Edwards (MTL) 864 yards, 6 touchdowns.
Passing: Geroy Simon (B.C.) 1053 yards, 7 touchdowns; Kerry Watkins (MTL) 1169 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Punt returns: Aaron Lockett (B.C.) 578 yards, 2 touchdowns; Ezra Landry (MTL) 432 yards, 1 touchdown.
Defence: B.C. 35 sacks, 18 interceptions, 3,969 passing yards allowed, 1,273 rushing yards allowed; Montreal 31 sacks, 25 interceptions, 4,076 passing yards allowed, 1,588 rushing yards allowed.
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