Four reasons why the Montreal Alouettes lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Montreal Alouettes suffered a second consecutive loss on Friday night, dropping their home-opener to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a score of 27-10. It was an underwhelming performance for a team that was hosting its first game since November 2019.

The Als had a solid crowd of 15,000 at Percival Molson Stadium, which is the maximum allowed under Quebec’s COVID-19 guidelines. Most fans left the stadium disappointed as their team fell to 1-2 on the season with a share of last-place in the East Division.

Here are four reasons why the Als came out on the wrong side of Friday’s game against the Ticats.

Field-side folly

Hamilton had a three-point lead late in the game with neither club having committed a turnover. One got the sense that the first team to generate a takeaway would win, which is exactly what happened when Frankie Williams picked-off Vernon Adams Jr. early in the quarter.

Canadian football fields are 65 yards wide, which means you have to be careful when attacking the wide side. Passes have a very long way to travel and can be easily intercepted if they’re thrown too late or without enough speed on the ball.

Vernon Adams Jr. should know better than to have thrown this pass intended for Kaion Julien-Grant. It was a poor decision and an explosive defender like Williams was bound to take full advantage of the late throw, making the interception and helping secure the win.

No return policy

Mario Alford has been the CFL’s most explosive return specialist through the first few weeks of the 2021 season, though he wasn’t much of a factor on Friday night.

The speedster averaged just 6.3 yards on three punt returns and 14.2 yards on four kickoff returns, which are very pedestrian numbers. He also failed to break either of Hamilton’s missed field goals for a big return, though one of his attempts was called back due to a crack-back block by Patrick Levels.

The Als are at their best when Alford is able to create instant field position in the form of big returns. That didn’t happen on Friday and it made things tougher for Montreal’s offence, which was routinely forced to start drives deep in their own territory.

Stand back, Stanback

Williams Stanback is one of the league’s best running backs, but he didn’t have much room to work on Friday night. Ted Laurent made his return to the lineup for Hamilton and Montreal’s offensive line struggled to control him, failing to open holes for their star ball carrier.

Stanback carried the ball twelve times for just 40 yards, averaging a poor 3.3 yards-per-carry. He needed more room to work and the interior comprised of Philippe Gagnon, Sean Jamieson, and Kristian Matte struggled to make that happen.

One of the worst reps of the night for Montreal came in the fourth quarter when Gagnon got beat by Julian Howsare on a spin move on third-and-eleven, ending the drive. Tony Washington and Landon Rice manned the edges well, but the interior of Montreal’s offensive line needs to be better.

Stop in time

Montreal’s defence had a good night overall, limiting the Ticats the 327 yards of total offence and making six sacks. They even held reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player Brandon Banks to just two receptions for five yards.

Unfortunately, the unit folded late with the game still within reach. Hamilton took over at their own 52-yard line with 2:47 remaining in the game and there was still a chance for Montreal to come back had they held the Ticats to a quick two-and-out.

Instead, Sean Thomas-Erlington led a six-play drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run to seal the victory. If Hamilton had been able to get a late stop — or perhaps even a takeaway — there was still a chance for the team to make a late comeback.

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