It feels like a nightmare for Chad Kelly but it’s reality.
The Argonauts’ franchise quarterback had the worst performance of his Canadian Football League career to date as Montreal took down his 16-2 team 38-17 in the Eastern Final.
“You can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did on offence, I made it a lot harder on the defence than it should’ve been. This loss is on me, I take full responsibility [for] throwing those mistakes out there, playing careless with the football and trying to do too much,” Kelly said post-game.
The league’s all-star QB completed 21-of-36 passes (58.3 percent) for 246 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. He fumbled once while turning it over three times on downs. However, Kelly was not sacked once in the game by the Alouettes.
“I think the O-line did a great job. We tried making adjustments. It wasn’t our night,” Kelly said.
Toronto tied the record for the best regular-season win total in CFL history, which had been singularly held by the 1989 Edmonton Football Team. Edmonton was famously upset in the Western Final by a 9-9 Saskatchewan Roughriders group who went on to capture the Grey Cup.
“No question it hurts more. If you were a 9-9 team, you come in here and things don’t work out your way… but the season we had and we’re playing at home in front of the crowd that showed up… we’re pretty embarrassed by the performance we gave to the city of Toronto and our fans,” Argos’ head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said.
“We were trying to make the big play and sometimes you’ve just gotta move the chains. He’s still a young quarterback, he’s only started 19 games. We feel like Chad is going to give us a chance to get back here next year. He’s hurting and we’re all hurting.”
During the regular schedule, Kelly completed 270-of-394 passes (69 percent) for 4,123 yards with 23 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions. The 29-year-old added 41 carries for 248 yards with eight majors on the ground in 18 games. The Double Blue won every game he played from start to finish.
Dinwiddie was “shocked” by the way No. 12 played at BMO Field in front of a record crowd of 26,620 on Saturday.
“One of the things I was trying to tell Chad going into this game — he didn’t have to be a superhero and sometimes we’ve got to let pays die. Unfortunately, we had two pick-sixes and that really changed the game,” Dinwiddie said. “At times, I think he was a little out of sorts. We turned the ball over too much. Our defence did enough for us to win that game.”
Kelly has to travel to Niagara Falls for the CFL Awards on Thursday night because he earned the East Division nomination for the league’s Most Outstanding Player award. He’ll only need to pack a suit and street clothes for the trip with the Als pulling a major upset that’s left him feeling numb.
“Words can’t explain the feeling I’m feeling right now, but I’m not in a position like that if it’s not for my teammates,” Kelly said. “I’m just thankful to have the group of guys around me like we do.”