Eskimos continue quest for playoffs in clash with Alouettes
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - With the Eastern Division title already locked up, the Montreal Alouettes now turn their attention to the Edmonton Eskimos as the two squads collide on Sunday afternoon.
Last Saturday, the Als recorded a 34-28 win over Saskatchewan on the road, the team's second straight win and the 10th overall for the season. Because Toronto was sent packing by Winnipeg a day earlier, the Alouettes were in control of their own destiny and are now assured of hosting a division finals game on Nov. 18.
Edmonton's chances of making the postseason are slightly more convoluted at the moment. Because the Eskimos hold a tie-breaker over Saskatchewan, the squad has to at least win one of the last two games on the schedule in order to secure a cross-over spot in the playoffs, or wait and see if Hamilton and Winnipeg both split their final two games in order to sneak in.
For a team that opened the 2012 campaign with three wins in four tries, the Eskimos could have made it much easier on themselves if they hadn't dropped five straight games in the month of September. Last week, Edmonton saw a brief two-game win streak come to an end when it bowed to British Columbia on the road in a 39-19 final.
If it wasn't for kicker Grant Shaw, the final score against the Lions would have been even more dismal as he produced all 10 points for the Eskimos in the first half. As a unit, Edmonton generated 293 yards of offense, but the squad was also slowed by 10 penalties which cost them 86 yards as well.
Kerry Joseph took more than his fair share of hits as he was sacked seven times. The signal-caller converted a mere 6-of-24 passes for 146 yards and a score, but was also intercepted once.
Part of the problem for the Eskimos was that running back Hugh Charles sustained an injury and that curtailed many of the options Edmonton may have had on offense. Charles gained 35 yards on seven carries and Jerome Messam had a single 22-yard run on his lone attempt, which may be why the team was prompted to bring back Cory Boyd whom they had released just 10 days prior.
Boyd, who began the season with the Toronto Argonauts and was the league's leading rusher with 447 yards before being released by them, appeared in four games for Edmonton previously and was credited with 18 carries for 76 yards and another 40 receiving yards on four catches.
Having someone like Boyd ready to pick up the slack right off the bat is something that the Eskimos should be thrilled about being able to do on such short notice, but if Joseph isn't able to direct the offense it might not make much of a difference.
As for the Alouettes, they started off slow in their meeting with the Roughriders last Saturday afternoon, but then picked up the pace in the second and third quarters when they tallied a combined 27 points in order to surge ahead. Down the stretch the defense did permit a pair of touchdowns to Saskatchewan which closed the gap significantly, but still the Als held on.
Anthony Calvillo had a modest day passing the ball by his standards, converting 16-of-28 for 262 yards and a score, but while the signal-caller was sacked twice by the Riders, he also ran the ball three times for a collective 36 yards and two touchdowns. Any other time an effort like that may have earned Calvillo the CFL's Offensive Player of the Week award, but in this case that accolade went to teammate Jamel Richardson who caught eight passes for 161 yards.
Richardson has been rather quiet this season when it comes to statistics, at least compared to years gone by. Last year, he led the entire league in receiving yards with close to 1,800, resulting in 11 touchdowns stemming from 112 catches, but this year he has half that number of receptions for 949 yards and five majors.
The receiver really can't blame Calvillo for his dip in production because the quarterback is again on pace to throw for more than 5,000 yards for the second straight year and the seventh time in his career, needing just 239 yards in the next two games to reach that plateau. However, Calvillo has seen his accuracy dip to 60 percent and his interceptions rise to 12 after throwing just eight picks all of last season.
While Calvillo is preparing to break the tie he holds with Doug Flutie for the most 5,000-yard passing seasons in CFL history, Edmonton is dealing with the fact that it is next-to-last in the league in passing yards (4,154) and has nearly as many INTs (16) as TDs (20), as it juggles quarterbacks depending on their health and effectiveness.
Montreal won the only prior meeting this season between these two teams back on Aug. 17 by a score of 38-25, as Calvillo threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns. With that decision, the Als have now taken five in a row from Edmonton, but still trail in the all-time, regular-season series by a count of 37-26-2 dating back to 1949.
10/24 11:36:14 ET