Alouettes look to rebound from two setbacks

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes hope to chase away a couple of nightmares when they face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week.

The first was the catastrophic final 100 seconds of a 41-40 defeat in Winnipeg on July 28 when they blew a 12-point lead. The other was last week’s 38-6 loss in Toronto, where they trailed 35-0 at halftime.

“Everything didn’t work last week,” slotback Nik Lewis said Tuesday. “You have those games.

“B.C. played pretty much like that in Saskatchewan. Hamilton had that game against Calgary (a 60-1 loss on July 29). During the season, everybody’s going to have that game.”

The Alouettes (3-5) have a chance to get even with the Blue Bombers (6-2) at Percival Molson Stadium on Thursday night. Perhaps more importantly, it is a chance to finish the first half of the regular season one win better than a year ago, when a 32-18 defeat at home to Winnipeg left them 3-6 at the midway point.

Montreal made major changes after missing the playoffs at 7-11 last season. They included promoting Kavis Reed to general manager, making Jacques Chapdelaine full-time coach and acquiring and paying top dollar to veteran quarterback Darian Durant.

They hoped for better results on the field, but so far the record is unchanged. The difference is that the East Division is so weak that they are in second place, only two points behind Toronto.

“Last year is not important,” said linebacker Kyries Hebert. ”We have a new coach, a new GM, new players and we have a new mission.

“This is an entirely new deal. We’re in second place right now. It’s not like we’re completely out of the race and not close to attaining our goal. Ultimately, you want to have a home playoff game and if the season ended now we would have that. What we have to do is continue to play our best football consistently and we’ll be exactly where we want to be.”

They would be ahead of their pace were it not for the meltdown in Winnipeg. Stefan Logan scored to put Montreal up 40-28 with 1:40 left to play. But Ray Lankford caught a touchdown pass, a short kick worked, and a second penalty-aided drive got the Bombers to the one yard line, from which Andrew Harris was deemed to have scored even if he looked on the replays to have been stopped short.

“A lot of things happened that were in our control, so we had a lot to learn from that game and we did,” said Hebert. ”If we’re ever in that situation again we will be 100 per cent prepared to finish.

“The coaches showed us film and what it was that went wrong and how to fix it.”

Montreal bounced back with a 21-9 win at home over Toronto. But quarterback Ricky Ray returned from injury the following week and the Argonauts steamrolled them through the first half. The Alouettes’ only score was on a second half interception by linebacker Dominique Tovell.

It recalled Saskatchewan rebounding from a 30-15 loss in Vancouver on Aug. 3 with a 41-8 win over B.C. 10 days later in Regina. Sweeping back-to-back games is never easy.

“Toronto came with a tremendous amount of energy, focus and effort,” said Hebert. “When you play bad and a team you beat last week is motivated, you’re going to get that result sometimes.

“Everything that went wrong is fixable. We made some adjustments in the second half. Our defence outscored them in the second half. That’s something we looked at as a positive. From an offensive standpoint, we trust Jacques and our quarterbacks. I know they’ll get it together and get it done as they’ve done before this year.”

Tovell and running back Tyrell Sutton missed practice this week with injuries and are doubtful to play.

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