With all due respect to the wildly exciting games we saw on Labour Day Monday, my mind is still set on last Friday.
Montreal 30, BC 25.
The game is nearly a week old but I’m still digesting everything I saw. Before I get to my pseudo-analysis from that game let me first say, I can’t wait for the rematch! I feel we’re in store for a ‘Godfather II’ sort of affair rather than a ‘Caddyshack II’ with Jackie Mason somehow in the Rodney Dangerfield role.
I’m trying to wrack my brain as to why this game would be a dud. You have the two best quarterbacks in the league, both teams are stacked with stars on both sides of the field and there will be a whole lot of pride at stake. Everyone enjoys a fun upset, or a quirky exciting game between some of the lesser lights, but I’ll take the best vs. the best, Alpha Dog against Alpha Dog any day.
And so will you.
As much as we say we like seeing the underdog, the David, that scrappy team of over achievers, in the end we want to see the elite compete against one another.
I am going to refrain from talking too much about Anthony Calvillo, just a couple of sentences at most.
Montreal won because of a defence that shut down the Lions for long stretches of time and because of Josh Bourke, Andrew Woodruff, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Scott Flory and Jeff Perrett.
Also, I can’t do this piece without throwing in Bo Bowling (more on him later).
The Alouettes’ offensive line and their schemes are just something to behold. When you see all the numbers that are being put up you assume this is a down field passing attack with wide receivers stretching the field.
The reality is that for most of the big plays, the ball travels about seven to nine yards; its after that where the fun truly begins.
The 50-yard “reception” by receiver SJ Green on the team’s first drive that set up the game’s first touchdown was all about perfectly executed blocking, most notably by Flory and rookie FB Patrick Lavoie.
While the play was a simple centre screen, it was the cohesive work of the men in front, plus Green’s athleticism, that made the play work. The touchdown pass to running back Brandon Whitaker was just as much about pass protection as it was Calvillo’s natural ability.
Whitaker was certainly not the first option, but credit Calvillo for following his progressions and the offensive line for giving him that luxury. How often do you see any offence, especially one missing two of its best receivers, go 75 yards in four plays and score on the vaunted Lions defence with such ease?
I could go one for another 1,000 words on this but I will do something rare and edit myself.
Here are two more plays that instantly come to mind:
Second quarter, third-and-one and Montreal goes toss sweep to the left side. A gutsy call considering the safe bet is a simple plunge up the middle. Instead, Whitaker rips a 13-yard run, keeps the drive alive and eventually scores another touchdown two plays later.
Of course none of this could have happened without FB Dahrran Diedrick absolutely blowing up Anton Mckenzie with a block that was so textbook your teacher will make you buy the latest edition each school year.
With respect to that touchdown, the stars of the play are the ones who hang around on the lower end of the pay scale.
Flory takes out linebacker Adam Bighill, while BowlinG is downfield making sure no defensive backs get in the way. I mentioned this in my power rankings column, but Bowling was all over the field making plays. The only thing is that none of these plays ended up with anyone in the endzone.
One last snapshot about Bowling. On the 26-yard reception to Eric Deslauriers that gave Calvillo the record for most consecutive 300-yard passing games, it was Bowling who blocked Keron Williams, yes the same Keron Williams who leads the league in sacks, which gave Calvillo enough time for the historic completion.
I feel like I’m starting to ramble, so let’s go list style for some other takeaways from this game. 1) For the Lions to win this Friday, they are going to need touchdowns, not field goals. An underrated part from this game was just how well Montreal’s defence played in the third quarter. The Lions benefitted twice from great returns by Tim Brown but all they had to show for it was a pair of Paul McCallum field goals. The Alouettes D did their job, for B.C. to win they’ll have to find a way to capitalize on those opportunities.
2) Now if there is one quarterback who can do that it’s Travis Lulay. He can stick the ball in the tightest of coverages, as was evident by his first touchdown pass to Arland Bruce. Chip Cox’s coverage was excellent, Lulay’s throw was better.
3) Speaking of Bruce, it shocks me the amount of big plays that are left in that body.
4) Just how good are the Lions? It took until Labour Day for the team to be trailing at the half. That’s an impressive stat.
5) The Lions defence actually played very well. During a 12 minute stretch in the third quarter they held Calvillo to just 10 yards passing.
Prediction: If Geroy Simon is fully healthy I have to give the edge to the Lions. This game easily could have gone to British Columbia, and with their home field advantage (beat Montreal 43-1 last year) I’m calling for a draw between the two best teams in the league.