Alouettes’ problems in the trenches come to forefront in rainy loss

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

A night of fireworks on Canada Day, it was not.

After taking one on the chin last week, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers doled out a reality check on the Montreal Alouettes, handing them their first loss by a 17-3 margin. The game was delayed due to heavy rains and lightning in the area, but once it got started, the Bombers absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They protected quarterback Zach Collaros with ease and relentlessly harassed Cody Fajardo throughout the game.

While the Als have key injuries at wide receiver and offensive line, you get the sense that Winnipeg’s will to be physical would have prevailed regardless on this night.

The Bombers ran the ball consistently throughout while keeping Collaros upright and pressure-free. Meanwhile, Montreal couldn’t run the ball effectively once again, a theme for them even in their two early-season victories.

The Alouettes also turned the ball over a few times, with running back William Stanback dropping the ball during the opening drive of the third quarter and receiver Austin Mack putting it on the ground in the fourth quarter. Fajardo was also stripped at the end of the game, as well as throwing a back-breaking interception to Brandon Alexander in the red zone — his first pick of the year.

For Montreal, they’ll have to come up with something new to protect Fajardo and give him more time to pass. He was hit several times and sacked five times, twice each by Cameron Lawson and Willie Jefferson. Without Pier-Olivier Lestage in the lineup, the unit of Nick Callender, Philippe Gagnon, Justin Lawrence, Kristian Matte, and Landon Rice continued to underperform and cost their team.

They’ll have exactly eight days to make adjustments before they face the Lions next Sunday, who led the league in sacks entering Week 4.

NOTES: The CFL’s interception leader Ciante Evans missed the game with an injury for Montreal. He had been a constant presence and threat in the secondary for the Alouettes’ defence in the first two games. He’s expected to return next week. … During the weather delay prior to the game beginning, the TSN broadcast relied almost exclusively on its studio panel to fill the time. The result was a monotonous television experience that was worthy of flipping the channel. Instead, the broadcast could have relied on the entertaining sideline reporter Matthew Scianitti to have some fun. He was tweeting fun pics during the delay; why not let him and a cameraman explore the rotunda area and talk to fans, or seek out the players and see what they were doing to stay ready? The lack of creativity continues for TSN in their CFL production. … Als’ kicker David Cote missed his first kick of the season in the first quarter. He had been perfect on the season.

Matthew Ross has covered sports in Montreal and beyond for over 20 years. He's contributed to outlets such as TSN, MLB.com, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post, and more. His Twitter account is @matthewevolves.