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CFL Preview - Montreal (2-1) at Hamilton (1-2)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, July 21, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Needing some late-game heroics to turn the tables against their most recent foes, the Montreal Alouettes now turn their attention to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday as the squads collide at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Montreal, which dropped the 2012 season opener against Calgary by a lopsided 38-10 score on the road, has responded with a win against Winnipeg (41-30) in Week 2 and also a clutch 33-32 triumph over the same Stampeders last Thursday in a game that could have easily gone the other way.

The only club in the East Division that is above .500 entering play this week, Montreal trailed by a score of 25-13 in the fourth quarter before the venerable Anthony Calvillo went to work. The all-time leader in passing yards in professional football, Calvillo helped lead the Als to three majors in the final period, including TD passes of 7 and 3 yards to S.J. Green and Patrick Lavoie in the final minutes to complete the comeback.

Calvillo, who was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts, converted 23-of-38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns for his squad, while shaking off four sacks. Even though the team came up with the victory, the Als can't exactly be thrilled with their effort on the ground as they managed a mere five net yards on eight attempts.

Although he missed some of the game due to injury, defensive back Jerald Brown was named the CFL Defensive Player of the Week as he logged a season-best five tackles and picked off a Kevin Glenn pass with less than two minutes remaining, returning it 33 yards to the one-yard line of Calgary. Shortly thereafter, Calvillo hit Patrick Lavoie with the game-winning score.

While the Alouettes are moving in the right direction, Hamilton recently made amends for an 0-2 start to the campaign by claiming a 36-27 win over Toronto last Saturday at home.

The Tiger-Cats appeared to be well on their way to a comfortable win versus visiting Toronto, but after pushing out to a 21-0 advantage in the second quarter, Hamilton had to hold on for a bumpy ride before capturing the nine- point decision.

The 'Cats recorded only 14 first downs and 293 yards of total offense, compared to 402 yards for the Argos who refused to go away quietly. Henry Burris converted just 12-of-27 passes for 181 yards, yet offset his one interception by throwing three touchdowns passes. Putting his stamp on the game was returner Chris Williams who brought back four punts for a total of 113 yards, including one for an 89-yard score.

Williams, who reeled in a 34-yard scoring strike from Burris to kick off the game's action in the first period, also electrified the crowd with a 119-yard missed field goal return for a score as he was named the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week.

As well as Williams has played thus far, he alone cannot compensate for the fact that Hamilton has allowed more points than any other team in the league (109). Part of the problem is that the squad's turnover margin is currently the worst in the CFL as well (minus-seven).

Hamilton is in the middle of the pack when it comes to slowing down opposing passing attacks, giving up 266.7 ypg through the air, but that's a number that will be challenged almost exclusively this week given how inept the Als are at running the ball. Obviously everyone knows that Montreal is only as good as Calvillo is from week to week, but with a so-called rushing attack that is last in the league with just 50 net yards per game, the Als are making it a bit easier for opponents like Hamilton to prepare for them.

Montreal, which will host the next meeting between the squads on August 23, leads the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1950 by a count of 87-77-7. The Als captured a narrow 27-25 decision in the most recent matchup last October, giving them two straight wins and three in the last five during the regular season versus Hamilton.

Defense is the weak link for Montreal and has been since Calvillo took over the offense. Should Burris and Williams find a way to exploit that aspect of the game, the Tiger-Cats will have a fighting chance this week, although they'll need to put more than just a few hits on the Montreal signal-caller top ensure a tight game.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 27, Hamilton 20

07/18 10:53:01 ET

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