November 1, 2022

The play that changed the 2022 Alouettes’ season

Montreal Alouettes DL Michael Wakefield stands over Winnipeg Blue Bombers RB Brady Oliveira during second quarter CFL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, August 11, 2022. (CFL PHOTO - JASON HALSTEAD)

Over the course of a season, there are many plays that contribute to a team’s success. Every game, there are players that step up and deliver in the clutch. But the 2022 Montreal Alouettes, there was one play that appeared to change the course of the season.

The play in question was made in Winnipeg on Aug. 11. Let’s put things in context for you because it feels like that was a long time. The Alouettes had a 2-6 record at the time, and they were taking on the undefeated Bombers for a second week in a row. During the previous week, the Blue Bombers beat the Als at Percival Molson Stadium, 35-20.

Falling to 2-7 wasn’t an option, but there weren’t many people who expected the Als to walk out of Winnipeg with a win. For a while, those people appeared to be right.

The Alouettes were trailing 17-10 with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bombers offence was able to get down to the Montreal 38-yard line, and it appeared as though they were on their way to taking a two-possession lead. If they go up by two scores at that point, the comeback bid would’ve been even more improbable for the Als.

Enter Wesley Sutton.

The Als defensive back came after quarterback Zach Collaros on second-and-six. Not only did Sutton get to Collaros, but he also dislodged the football and the Als were able to recover.

“I knew how pivotal a stop was,” Sutton, who was a game-time decision for that game because of a concussion he suffered the week before, said on Tuesday. “

“Coaches called the blitz off the edge. I wanted to make sure that I was coming free with my disguise so that they would think I was in coverage. Instead, I came off the edge to make the play. I remember vividly, as I’m coming off the edge, I’m running, and this is the first time I ever came free off the edge (laughs). Nobody blocked me and (Collaros) still had the ball!

“I was just trying to make a game-changing play. The ball came out, and thankfully we were able to recover it.”

The Alouettes offence took over at their own 48-yard line. They were able to go on a 11-play drive that resulted in a Dominique Davis one-yard touchdown. David Cote hit the game-tying extra point, and suddenly, the score was tied, 17-17.

Again, there are several plays that go into every win. Trevor Harris completed some huge passes to Jake Wieneke on the drive that led to the game-tying drive. Also, if Blue Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio doesn’t miss the potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation and if he doesn’t hit the post in overtime, the Sutton play might not mean as much.

In the end, the season played out how it played out, and Sutton’s play ended up being huge. It allowed the Als to move to 3-6. They rattled off five wins in their next six games, which put them in position to finish second in the East Division.

“It started in the home game against Winnipeg (the previous week),” Sutton added. “We realized what we could do but we weren’t quite sure how to get it done and finish it, and we came up with the loss. The defence had like four turnovers, but we put it all together in Winnipeg in a hostile environment. Our backs were up against the wall, and we came out on top. I don’t think it was a renewed sense of belief, but I think it was a confirmation that we can do this.

“It’s a confidence booster. I don’t think it’s something that gave us all of our confidence, but it gave us some positivity and it boosted us to continue to keep going.”

“I realize that I was able to make a good impact in the game, but it wasn’t all up to me,” Sutton, who also had a huge pass-breakup in overtime, admitted. “There were a lot of clutch plays on offence, clutch catches by Jake (Wieneke) with that last drive. It was huge though. I do think it was a turning point, the main turning point of our season. It wasn’t all up to me, but I’m grateful to be a part of that.”

The Alouettes will now host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Percival Molson Stadium in the East-Division Semi-Final on Sunday Nov. 6. The winner of that game will take on the Argos in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 13.