Five reasons why the Montreal Alouettes hammered the Ottawa Redblacks

Photo Scott Grant /

The Montreal Alouettes snapped a two-game losing streak with a 51-29 win at TD Place on Friday night over the Ottawa Redblacks.

The game kicked off Labour Day Weekend in style as the 2021 CFL season’s highest-scoring game with the teams combining for 80 points.

Here are five reasons why Montreal was able to take full advantage of their matchup with the lowly Redblacks, hammering them by 22 points on the road.

Vern-on point

The CFL is a quarterback-driven league and teams tend to win when their starting pivot has an elite performance. Vernon Adams Jr. put on a show on Friday night, completing 18-of-23 pass attempts for 288 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Ottawa has struggled out of the gate this season, but its defence has been relatively stout. Adams attacked the unit more effectively than any other quarterback has thus far this season, fearlessly pushing the football down the field for big gains.

Adams moved well within the pocket, ran when necessary, found holes in zone coverage, and took advantage of defensive mismatches. His chemistry with Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke was particularly noticeable, connecting with the pair twelve times for 238 yards and all four of his passing touchdowns.

The second-year starter has been hot and cold this season — and throughout his young career, really — but the Als have an elite offence when Adams is on his game.

Hold the line

A quarterback is only as good as their offensive line and Montreal’s blockers had an impressive game against the Redblacks.

Chris Schleuger made his 2021 season debut at left tackle in place of an injured Tony Washington and Montreal’s pass protection didn’t skip a beat. Landon Rice continues to quietly play well at right tackle, while an interior of Philippe Gagnon, Sean Jamieson, and Kristian Matte controlled Cleyon Laing and Davon Coleman relatively well along the interior.

William Stanback was consistently provided with room to run, rushing 15 times for 112 yards. Canadian backup Jeshrun Antwi was effective along the ground as well, recording 35 yards on six carries.

Here’s a tip

Montreal’s defence intercepted Matt Nichols and Dominique Davis three times, two of which came off tipped passes. The front-seven recorded only two sacks, but consistently generated enough pressure to force Ottawa’s quarterbacks to throw into tight windows.

The three picks led to 17 points for Montreal, including a 72-yard pick-six by strong-side linebacker Patrick Levels. The other ten points came on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Lewis and a 16-yard field goal from rookie kicker David Côté.

Teams should win in lopsided fashion when they own the turnover battle, which the Als did at TD Place after winning it 3-0.

Quick to respond

Ottawa’s brightest moment of the game came late in the second quarter when a five-yard touchdown reception by Daniel Petermann made the score 20-10. It was the team’s first passing touchdown of the season and momentarily provided a sense of momentum for the Redblacks heading into halftime.

Montreal responded by putting together a three-play, 85-yard drive that ended in a 39-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Lewis. The drive took 38 seconds off the clock and extended the team’s lead to 17 points, quickly deflating the home crowd.

Football is a game of momentum and responding so quickly and effectively following Ottawa’s second quarter touchdown helped the Als stamp out any chance of their opponents making a comeback in the second half.

Keeping it clean

Montreal took 24 penalties for 235 yards during their two-game losing streak, many of which were undisciplined infractions that killed drives or helped their opponents stay on the field.

The team was able to clean things up against Ottawa, taking just six penalties for 74 yards. Half of these infractions came following the three-minute warning when the score was already out of reach, meaning the team was penalized just three times through the first 57 minutes of the game.

Clean football is good football. Let’s see if Montreal can keep it up when they return from their Week 6 bye.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.