The Hamilton Tiger Cats have made steady progress toward respectability this year. Then they played the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night and the Ticats learned that respectability is a far cry from Beast of the East. The real carnivores have a Quebec address and they have a big appetite for mangy felines.
The Alouettes owned the Ticats in the game as they dominated Hamilton offensively, defensively and on special teams. They probably even left town with their girlfriends. It was not pretty.
The question arises about the invincibility of the Montreal Alouettes as we approach the end of the season: Can they be beaten? The short answer is yes. The Als play in the CFL East, where almost every other team is a close football approximation of Harlem Globetrotter opponents.
Their closest competition is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the last game indicated that a Ticat first place is one of those lottery daydream moments for Hamilton that is possible but is mostly just a momentary flight of fancy that has crash landing written all over it.
Montreal is seriously challenged by CFL West teams because the Western teams are big enough dogs to run with the Alouettes any day of the week. The Alouettes will face real bullets any time they play real competition from the West.
B.C. and Calgary squared off in Cowtown on the weekend and, when the smoke cleared, the Stamps were still standing. Henry Burris has been cold the last few games, but he has learned how to play well enough to win big games. The wins may not be pretty, but beauty is only skin deep when it comes to victories. Look for pretty on the sidelines with the cheerleaders. What really matters is who gets to drag the Grey Cup around to victory parties in the off-season.
I mentioned that Calgary has beefed up their interior D-linemen and the imminent return of Mike Labinjo will only make them better. The addition of 1,000-yard receiver Romby Bryant is another reason to fear the Stamps in the stretch.
Winnipeg and Toronto duked it out in their Saturday night game in a literal sense as Michael Bishop had one of those rare good games that make coaches think that this guy can become a legitimate quarterback. It will not happen but the guy will have at least one or two respectable games before the end of the season. Let’s hope that the Bishop reclamation project comes to a quiet and permanent end at that point.
Toronto and Winnipeg decided to celebrate the start of the hockey season with a bench clearing brawl in which big men in full football gear tried to find opponents’ unprotected body regions to punch in a vigorous fashion. The whole thing became a semi-violent stalemate and players got ejected for massive stupidity. Very dumb, because retribution is really only the next play away. Oh yeah, the Bombers won the football game.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders won a game in their third home park in Edmonton as they beat the Eskimos in a sloppy game plagued by winds very reminiscent of their actual home park in Regina. Incidentally, Calgary is Saskatchewan’s other home park.
It was a good team effort but I am not sold on Darian Durant as the real deal.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose column on the CFL appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com