Joey Elliott, Blue Bombers stun Alouettes in Montreal
Third-string quarterback Joey Elliott threw touchdown passes to Terrence Edwards, Chris Matthews and Rory Kohlert as the Bombers downed the East Division-leading Montreal Alouettes 27-22 Monday for their first road win in seven attempts this season.
Winnipeg (4-10), which has won twice in its last three games, saw Elliott amass 335 passing yards on 17 completions in relief of injured starter Buck Pierce. Justin Palardy added a pair of field goals.
"I think the guys played without having a lot of tension in them — they just went out and played," said Bombers coach Tim Burke. "Montreal's one of the best teams in the league and to beat them at home, that tells you that you can beat anybody.
"So we just need to play like that all the time. Just be relaxed and go out and have fun and not press. We've been pressing too hard."
The Bombers will probably need to run the table in their last four regular season games, starting Saturday at home against Calgary, to have any chance to reach the playoffs.
They trail third-place Hamilton by two points in the East but must also catch Edmonton, the West's fourth place side who are four points ahead, to prevent a cross-over playoff entry.
Brandon London and backup quarterback Adrian McPherson scored TDs and Sean Whyte had three field goals for Montreal (8-6), which fumbled the ball away three times and saw quarterback Anthony Calvillo picked off twice.
Montreal, which recovered two more of its own fumbles, dropped a second game in a row after a 41-28 blowout loss in Hamilton. They will battle the Argonauts for first place in the division in Toronto on Sunday.
Alouettes coach Marc Trestman called it "unacceptable at all levels from our football team.
"Everything trickles down from the preciousness of the football. When you don't take care of the ball bad things can happen. We turned the ball over five times, twice in the red zone. When you look at the stats, we had 400 yards of offence (424) and 24 first downs. Our quarterback threw for over 300 yards (336). Turnovers were the difference in not moving the ball more and winning the game."
Tied 3-3 late in the first quarter, the Bombers' Demond Washington fumbled a punt and Chris Jennings recovered on the Winnipeg 40. But three plays later, Patrick Lavoie fumbled it back and Winnipeg's Jonathan Hefney grabbed it at the three.
When the Bombers punted, Trent Guy fumbled. His teammate Michael Carter recovered but he also lost the ball and Will Ford recovered.
On the next play, Elliott found Edwards behind the Montreal defence for a 50-yard touchdown.
After the kickoff, Calvillo dropped a snap but was able to pick it up. It was the fifth fumble in a 10-play stretch near the end of the first quarter.
Montreal completed the drive with McPherson's one-yard TD plunge, but Winnipeg got it back in only two plays — strikes of 42 and 36 yards to a wide-open Matthews.
"They do a lot of blitzing and leave three-D coverage behind it and that does leave some holes," Burke, a former Alouettes defensive co-ordinator, said of the Montreal defence. "I thought [offensive co-ordinator] Gary [Crowton] had a really good plan against them, with some of the same things Hamilton did against them. And Joey was really good with the ball."
Montreal threatened again late in the half, but a pass went through London's hands and Johnny Sears intercepted in the end zone.
Kohlert caught a 15-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter that was answered by London's 13-yard TD grab, but a final Montreal drive ended with a Brandon Stewart interception.
Now the Bombers must decide whether to dress Elliott again against the Stampeders. A decision was made late in the week to keep Pierce at home. Elliott showed he can do the job.
"I hope so," he said. "You never know. All our quarterbacks are ready to go whenever their number's called. That's how it's been all season and we're going to keep it the same way.
"It's a huge win for our team. Offensively, to come into this house and play a tough team and put some points up. To show our defence that we can play and make plays down the stretch. And we were able to run the ball in the second half, which secured the win for us."
Calvillo said the ball was slick in the cool autumn weather but that wasn't an excuse for the turnovers or a second sub-par performance in as many weeks.
"We just did not do enough to beat them," he said. "We've got four weeks to get together.
"We've shown we can do it. We've played big before. But this inconsistent play on all sides of the ball has to stop, starting with myself. We have to get back on track."
Montreal has won two of three meetings with the Bombers this season and face them again to end the regular season in Winnipeg on Nov. 3.
Calvillo, the CFL's all-time passing leader, made 39 pass attempts to pass Damon Allen's career record of 9,138. The 40-year-old also got the 92 yards he needed to reach 4,000 for the 11th time in his career. The last time he had fewer than 4,000 was 2007, when he played only 13 games.
The Alouettes' run of seven wins on Thanksgiving Day weekend ended.
Guy, the CFL special teams player of the week the last two weeks, left after the first half with a concussion.