Disastrous second half costs Redblacks against Montreal Alouettes

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

With a second half breakdown and a second straight loss, the Redblacks are left with more questions than answers at this point in the season. Ottawa fell to the Montreal Alouettes 36-19 Saturday evening in their first East Division matchup of the season.

The game was tied 9-9 at halftime but the Redblacks gave up 27 second-half points to a Montreal offence that averaged only 23 points per game. Mental mistakes were costly in last week’s loss to the Blue Bombers and they were once again on Saturday. Poor passing decisions, turnovers and blown coverages kept the Redblacks from hanging with the Alouettes in the second half.

Montreal quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. carved up the Redblacks with his arm and his legs. He completed 77% of his passes for 327 yards and two passing touchdowns. Coming into the game, Adams was completing only 59% of his passes.

He added 41 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. It was quite possibly the best game of the young quarterback’s CFL career.

His workhorse running back helped him out on the ground as well. William Stanback, the CFL’s leading rusher, churned out 100 hard-earned yards on the ground. He also had a bit of luck go his way that impacted the outcome of the game.

Stanback fumbled on a fourth quarter attempt but the play was blown dead. Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell threw the challenge flag but was overruled by official André Proulx due to a challenge rule related to television timeouts.

As a result, Montreal retained control of the ball and scored a touchdown to finish the drive. That critical turn of events put the Alouettes up 17 and effectively put the game out of reach for the Redblacks.

Injuries seemed to hurt Ottawa’s ability to defend the Montreal passing game. Cornerback Jonathan Rose and linebacker Kevin Brown both missed the game due to injury. Missing crucial pieces, the Redblacks defence blew coverage on a few key occasions. Communication between players not used to playing with one another appeared to be an issue.

It was a tough second half for the Redblacks secondary, starting with this 75-yard touchdown to a wide-open Quan Bray.

It was Bray’s first career CFL touchdown. He was the game’s leading receiver with 134 yards.

Redblacks quarterback Dominique Davis had trouble finding consistency through the air against the Alouettes. He completed only 62% of his passes and threw an interception. He did score the only two Redblacks touchdowns however, both on the ground.

For the second straight game, the Redblacks offence had trouble getting into a positive groove. The offence scored only nine first-half points and turned the ball over three times. Davis was picked off by Montreal DB Tommie Campbell and receivers RJ Harris and Seth Coate both gave the ball away via fumbles.

Dominique Rhymes, Ottawa’s leading receiver coming into the game, was held to only one catch on four targets. It seemed like a favourable matchup for him coming into the game, given his skillset and the Alouettes’ struggles in defending the deep ball.

Once again, Ottawa could not get Brad Sinopoli involved. A week after securing only one catch, Sinopoli caught four against Montreal but for only 34 yards.

Mossis Madu was the feature back for Ottawa in the team’s first three games, but he split carries with newcomer John Crockett against Montreal. Madu carried the ball eight times for 32 yards and Crockett carried three times for 24 yards. Crockett could be a bigger part of the Ottawa game plan moving forward.

The Redblacks and Alouettes are now tied for second in the East Division with matching records of 2-2.

Quick Notes:

  • The Alouettes have now won two straight games in Ottawa
  • Lewis Ward’s historic field goal streak continued. He is now up to 61 straight successful field goal attempts
  • Sinopoli made his 400th career catch as a Redblack​​​​​​​
  • Dominique Davis has now thrown seven interceptions to only three touchdowns this season

The Redblacks will take on the undefeated Blue Bombers next week in Winnipeg. Ottawa lost to Winnipeg at TD Place last week.