Alouettes – Argos: recap

The Montreal Alouettes turned in one of the most memorable performances in a CFL Division Final in a long time, as they defeated the Toronto Argonauts, 38-17, at BMO Field on Saturday. The victory gave the Als their first East Division crown since 2010, which was also the year they last won the Grey Cup.

The Als got explosive plays from all three units. That’s why they won this game and that’s why they’ll be going to Hamilton to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 110th Grey Cup next Sunday.

When discussing the 2023 East Final, we need to start by discussing the defensive performance that Noel Thorpe’s unit put together. This will go down as one of the greatest defensive showings in CFL history. It started with a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, which gave the road side a 7-0 lead early. In total, the Alouettes finished with NINE turnovers.

  • Dequoy interception for a touchdown
  • Darnell Sankey interception
  • Reggie Stubblefield interception
  • Kabion Ento interception for a touchdown
  • Shawn Lemon forced fumble, recovered by Sankey
  • Turnover on downs on third-and-one
  • Turnover on downs on third-and-one
  • Turnover on downs
  • Turnover on downs

After the game, I asked Sankey when he realized that they were in Kelly’s head. His answer was telling:

“We knew from the first snap of the game. We believed. We really truly believed. We said that we were going to win this game. We knew. From the first snap of the ball, we knew.”

A key moment in the game occurred after Cody Fajardo threw an interception in the second quarter. The momentum could’ve shifted Toronto’s way after that, but on the very next play, Lemon stripped Kelly of the football, and the Als offence was right back on the field.

Special teams score!

When you force nine turnovers in a game, there’s a great chance you’ll come away with a win. When you get nine turnovers AND you score a touchdown on special teams, it’s virtually impossible to lose.

Seconds after the Argonauts made it 24-10 early in the fourth quarter, Alouettes returner James Letcher Jr. returned a kickoff 105 yards for a major. That was a critical moment of the game because it restored Montreal’s three-possession advantage.

“It’s amazing,” Letcher Jr. said of going to the Grey Cup. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since I got on the team. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this since I started playing football. I’ve never been to a championship game or won anything this big. I’m super excited. We have one more work.”

Efficient offence:

The offence wasn’t spectacular in this game, and it didn’t have to be. They were efficient though. They were able to make enough plays to get the victory. They also protected the ball at critical moments of the game.

Late in the fourth quarter, when the Als were ahead, they were able to string together drives that helped kill the clock.

What’s next?

This is it!

The Alouettes will be playing in the 110th Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET. We’ll bring you plenty of pre-game, game, and post-game coverage from Hamilton throughout the week.

This is the first time the Alouettes and Bombers have faced off in a Grey Cup game.