November 19, 2012

A game of inches

MONTREAL – It may be a football cliché, but it has rung true for the Als at the end of another season.

Sometimes you come out on the winning end of a narrow victory like the Alouettes did at the 2009 Grey Cup on the now infamous 13th man call against the Roughriders in Calgary. Other times you don’t.

The slim margin between winning and losing is what helps make sports so compelling. A year ago a thrilling see-saw battle in overtime brought a sudden end to the Als quest for a third-straight Grey Cup championship against the Tiger-Cats. This time around a last gasp throw from Calvillo came oh so close to forcing overtime once again but it wasn’t meant to be. No one in the Alouettes locker room understands that more than their on-field leader.

“The game is over but the things you reflect on are the plays that could have made a difference,” reflected Calvillo. “In my mind, there are three: the two interceptions and one of the balls I missed to Jamel [Richardson]. Those things are going to stand out and eat at me and that’s what happens when you lose a game.”

Did the Alouettes lose the CFL’s leading rusher in 2011, Brandon Whitaker to injury this season? Yes. Speaking of Brandons, did Brandon London, their most dynamic receiver, see his season end on October 14 at Rogers Centre? Yes. Those may not have been the only tough injuries sustained by the Alouettes in 2012, but excuses were the last thing that would ever be heard coming out of the Montreal locker room this season.

That didn’t change after the East Final.

With three Grey Cup wins on his resume, Calvillo has won more big games than he’s lost, but that didn’t make this defeat at the hands of the archrival Argos any easier to swallow.

“When we lost last year I was really contemplating what I wanted to do, but this year that’s not the case. I’m in a different mental state,” vowed Calvillo. “This year, I focused all year long on enjoying the moment. This moment is tough to enjoy, but I’m not thinking too much about what I’m going to do.”

As for whether the Alouettes are ready to welcome AC back for his 20th season next year – that wouldn’t require much thinking either.

Some would even call it a no brainer.