Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal Alouettes were determined Sunday not to be relegated to third place in the East Division before their home fans.
Calvillo threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the second quarter, to lead Montreal to a convincing 43-13 home win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Calvillo enjoyed his second 400-yard game of the season as the defending Grey Cup champions won for the first time in three games and avenged an embarrassing 44-21 road loss to the Ticats on Labour Day.
"There was a sense of urgency on our side," Calvillo said. "We knew that and we talked about that in our locker room.
"That's why I'm proud of the guys, the way they came and responded because we've been talking so much about doing this and doing that and we haven't done it, but today we backed it up. We need that same intensity as we move forward."
Montreal (6-4) moved into sole possession of second in the East Division ahead of third-place Hamilton (5-5).
Jamel Richardson had seven catches for 113 yards, including his eighth TD of the season. Brandon London recorded his first career touchdown catch while Kerry Watkins had his first of the year.
Brandon Whitaker caught the first of Calvillo's three second-quarter TD passes. Dahrran Diedrick ran for a touchdown in the fourth while Sean Whyte hit his second field goal of the game and 26th of the season with 5:26 remaining.
"We did a great job as a whole as an offence, just going out and making the plays we are supposed to make," Watkins said.
The Alouettes' defence did just fine, too, holding Hamilton to 246 total offensive yards. Former Montreal tailback Avon Cobourne was limited to just two yards on five carries.
"We got beaten up in all three phases and their execution was excellent and it was just a good win by them," Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefeuille said. "They took it to us."
Hamilton's Justin Medlock kicked three straight field goals late in the first half to draw the Tiger-Cats to within 29-10, including a club record-tying 57-yard boot.
Medlock kicked a fourth field goal as time expired after missing another earlier in the quarter when his 42-yard attempt hit the right goalpost.
"I felt like we moved the ball pretty well right before the half," Medlock said. "That was the thing, we were getting the momentum and it's just tough that we didn't continue that."
Limited to a pair of defensive touchdowns six days earlier in Hamilton, the Alouettes' offence stormed into a 29-1 lead 10:13 into the second on the strength of four Calvillo touchdown strikes to four different receivers.
London was wide open 10:47 in after Montreal opened the scoring with a single on Whyte's missed 37-yard field goal attempt.
Calvillo hit Whitaker on another six-yard touchdown pass 21 seconds into the second. The Alouettes extended their lead to 22-0 at 4:57 when Watkins caught his first TD pass of the season that followed a Hamilton single.
Medlock kicked a 35-yard field goal at 12:56 before tying the Hamilton record shared by Bernie Ruoff and Paul Osbaldiston. Medlock added a 47-yard kick 1.2 seconds before the end of the first half.
Diedrick scored his fifth touchdown of the season on a one-yard run 5:26 into the fourth.
Montreal defensive back Dwight Anderson left the game with a muscle strain and did not return.
A moment of silence was observed by the crowd of 24,304 prior to the game in commemoration of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Minstrels of Hope, a 12-girl choir from the Philippines, performed a gorgeous a cappella rendition of "America The Beautiful" before singing the Canadian national anthem.
"It was a good feeling. I got a little emotional about that because that's a big deal for everybody in the States and up north," said Whitaker, whose mother was injured in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. "That's definitely something that hit me hard."