Alouettes 33 Blue Bombers 14
MONTREAL — It was a routine win for the Montreal Alouettes, so all the post-game attention was on the floundering Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Alouettes’ defence held CFL rushing leader Fred Reid to only 18 yards on 11 carries and forced four turnovers in a 33-14 victory on Sunday afternoon. Avon Cobourne led the way with two touchdowns and Damon Duval went 5-for-5 on field goals for Montreal (9-2).
But the reaction by the Bombers (3-8) after their third one-sided loss in a row was to complete a trade with Calgary, sending receivers Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin to the Stampeders for a pair of young players and an exchange of draft picks.
That came after starting quarterback Michael Bishop was pulled near the end of the first half for newcomer Casey Bramlet, the fifth pivot they’ve used this season. He went 1-for-8 with an interception and Bishop went back in for the fourth quarter. Together, they completed only 10 passes for 158 yards, while compiling a mere 162 yards of net offence, compared to 460 for Montreal.
“Our quarterbacks are Russell Stover’s chocolates right now — you never know quite what you’re going to get,” said Winnipeg coach Mike Kelly. “We were doing things in the first quarter, we were battling, but then things got away from us.
“I said ‘Let’s put Casey in and see what he can do.’ He was able to finish out the first half and make the exchange, but we just didn’t get anything going in the third quarter, so it was time to go back to Michael Bishop and see if he could do something.”
In his second play back, Bishop hit Adarius Bowman for a 55-yard touchdown to make it a 27-14 game at 1:12 of the fourth quarter, but then had two passes picked off to kill any idea of a comeback.
It appears that Bishop will start again when the Bombers play host to Toronto on Saturday, but he hardly has a lock on the job just yet.
“There’s that old song Love The One You’re With, and we’ll just keep working at it and trying to be better and put him in position to be successful,” said Kelly.
“There’s been a lot of two-quarterback systems.
“You try to go with someone who has got a hot hand and can function, but right now, we’re struggling at the quarterback position and just being able to function is a challenge sometimes. You just go with your gut and see if you can get going.”
Some have questioned Kelly’s own job security, and he knows the heat will be on when the team returns to Winnipeg.
“I couldn’t care less about that,” he said. “We know we’re doing the right things.
“Everybody wants to speculate and sensationalize things, but in our locker-room we know we’re doing everything we can. We understand our shortcomings and we just need to keep working at it.”
The Bombers were held to fewer than 15 points for the fourth time in five games and the seventh time this season. Bishop was not about to make waves at being pulled from the game.
“They made the call,” he said. “I came to the sideline and they told me I was out.
“I didn’t know what was going on, but you have to respect what they call. I didn’t know if I’d go back in, but I did and we had a spark. That’s all I can do — try to make it happen when I’m in. Early on, we had a couple of drops, but I thought I was moving the ball against a good defence.”
So good, in fact, that Bishop said Montreal seemed to know what the Bombers would do in advance.
They certainly had Reid cornered. He needed only 92 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, thanks partly to a 260-yard game last month against B.C., but was stopped up near the line of scrimmage on nearly every carry.
“It was a pretty good performance for the defence and the whole team,” said Montreal defensive back Davis Sanchez. “We minimized big plays, stopped the run, got some turnovers — all the things you’re supposed to do on a defence.”
The Bombers started strong, forcing the Alouettes to turn the ball over on downs on the first drive of the game. The good field position contributed to the first score, as a 33-yard reception by new slotback Dudley Guice set up a four-yard TD run by Reid at 6:09.
A single and Duval’s 27-yard field goal, which followed Bishop’s fumble at the 25, got Montreal back into it and on their next drive Calvillo found Cobourne up the middle for a 20-yard pass and run TD at the end of the first quarter.
A seven-play drive late in the half was capped by Cobourne’s one-yard for his 11th TD of the season. A single and another field goal made it 22-7 at the intermission.
Bramlet connected with Guice for a first down when he came in, but then was intercepted by Billy Parker on his next throw.
After Bowman’s TD, Montreal answered back with a Duval field goal and then Duval got another after Jerald Brown picked off a Bishop pass and ran it to the Winnipeg six. Bombers receiver Terrence Edwards was knocked out by a hit by Shea Emry on the play, but got up and was able to walk off.
Bishop was picked off again when a pass over the middle went through a receiver’s hands right to linebacker Diamond Ferri. Backup Adrian McPherson took over and ran out the final two minutes of play.
It was the seventh time Montreal’s league-best defence held a team to fewer than 20 points, including their 39-12 win in Winnipeg on Aug. 14.
They face a key test next week, playing on a short week in Hamilton on Friday night.
Ben Cahoon caught a pass in a 120th consecutive game, passing former Edmonton Eskimo Craig Ellis for third place all time behind Donald Narcisse (216) and Tony Gabriel (137). Cahoon, who had caught only one pass in each of Montreal’s last two games, had six for 85 yards.
Anthony Calvillo completed 28 passes for 338 yards.