After taking down the Calgary Stampeders last week, the Montreal Alouettes were unable to come up with a victory against the Ottawa Redblacks.
Consistency continues to be a huge problem for the Als, as they can’t seem to string four decent quarters together on any given evening. Don’t get me wrong, no CFL team will be perfect during a game, but when the Als are bad, they’re really bad.
So lets start with there.
The bad vs. Ottawa
For the second week in a row, the offence got off to a painfully slow start (it was much worse against Ottawa). Quarterback Darian Durant threw two horrible interceptions in the first, one of which came with the offence inside Ottawa’s 10-yard line. Durant and running back Brandon Rutley also lost fumbles in the opening half.
Durant did a good job of taking care of the ball early in the season, but some of the decisions he’s made have left a lot to be desired. He’s thrown bad picks against Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa, and he’ll need to take better care of the football if Montreal wants to be serious contenders for the East Division crown.
If Durant was just average in the first half, #AlsMTL win that game easily
— Joey Alfieri (@joeyalfieri) July 20, 2017
Getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers has also been a problem for the Als at times. B.J. Cunningham was held without a catch in the opening quarter (his first grab came with roughly 11:30 left in the second quarter). Ernest Jackson didn’t register his first reception until after the three-minute warning in the first half. The coaching staff has to find a way to get those two players involved sooner if they want to have success.
The Als went into the half down 17-6, and it could have been a whole lot worse. Redblacks receiver Diontae Spencer dropped a touchdown in the first half, which forced Ottawa to settle for a field goal. Greg Ellingson made a huge catch over Als DB Brandon Stewart inside the Montreal 10-yard line, but the play was called back because of an unnecessary roughness penalty on offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers. Ottawa came away with no points on that drive.
As for the defence, it’s tough to pin this loss on them. They were on the field a lot in the first half because of the offence’s turnovers, and they did a relatively good job despite being put in a hole repeatedly.
They’d obviously like to have that 80-yard passing play to Greg Ellingson back, but those things happen in the CFL. Ottawa has a lot of weapons and they’re bound to make spectacular plays during a game.
I’d still like to see them get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but that simply wasn’t possible on Wednesday because Ottawa’s Trevor Harris was getting rid of the ball incredibly quickly.
The good vs. Ottawa
Despite the incredible amount of turnovers/mistakes, the Alouettes managed to stay in the game. They actually had a chance to take the lead with under two minutes remaining. Once they failed to convert on third-and-short inside the Ottawa 10-yard line, the game was over (the spot the officials gave them was terrible).
As bad as Durant was in the first half, he orchestrated a pair of incredible drives in the third quarter. It looked like he was playing pitch and catch with Cunningham, Jackson, Nik Lewis and Tiquan Underwood. The veteran quarterback settled down nicely, and he was able to get his team back in the game. Unfortunately for them, they still came up just short.
Despite not having any receptions in the first quarter, both Cunningham and Jackson came up with big plays the rest of the way. Both receivers finished the game with 101 yards (Jackson had eight receptions, Cunningham had five).
Also, I have to mention Lewis coming up with another huge milestone, as he recorded his 1000th catch. If he stays healthy, he’ll likely reach Geroy Simon’s mark of 1029 receptions this season.
I’ve got to mention them again, but the defence really hung in there in the first half when the offence was giving the ball away all over the field. If it wasn’t for them, the game could have been over a lot sooner than it was.
There’s a lot of guys playing well on that side of the ball. One guy I want to mention is rookie Dominique Tovell. No one knew who this player was coming into training camp. Not only has he developed into a useful player, he’s become one of the forces of that defence. He always seems to be around the ball and his ability to wrap guys up is obvious.
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