'This one stinks': Lions sunk in Montreal Marsh
Backup quarterback leads Alouettes to dramatic comeback win
MONTREAL — OK, take a deep breath.
The B.C. Lions are 5-3 and unless there is some gigantic recovery by the Edmonton Eskimos they will more than likely make the CFL playoffs. They have a knockout defence and for the second straight game there was a pulse detected on special teams by Tim Brown.
But as became evident as Thursday’s game with the Montreal Alouettes, they have serious problems on offence that have been masked by the play of their defence.
Rich Stubler’s defence couldn’t stay off the field long enough and because they basically ran out of gas, they were embarrassed by the Als. They gave the game away on the penultimate play of the game on a Hail Mary 57-yard pass by backup quarterback Tanner Marsh, who has no business completing a pass against a far more experienced player with the same surname, Lions cornerback Dante Marsh.
But he did, and despite giving up five interceptions and scoring 17 points off six turnovers, the Als prevailed 39-38 as Sean Whyte nailed a chip-shot 15-yard field goal with no time left.
“I have to watch what I say now. I’m honestly at a loss for words,” Lions lineman Keron Williams said.
Think about it; the Lions were playing a team missing 10 starters.
As just about every one of his defensive teammates said quietly afterwards, producing that many chances should be good enough to win.
“We scored 38 points. We should have scored 68 points,” the Lions’ Marsh said.
And it wasn’t as if the Lions were playing against a Montreal quarterback with any experience. Anthony Calvillo was nowhere to be seen and the Lions had chased his starting replacement, Josh Neiswander.
But the Lions have again invited the rest of the league to do as the Als did Thursday and sent the house on blitzes, because it makes Andrew Harris a blocker and few receivers get open. At one point, the Lions went 30:07 without a first down, as they are virtually useless lately trying to convert second-and-short situations.
Shawn Gore was the offensive hero for the Lions, scoring two touchdowns, but to this point in the season had been invisible.
“We’re making way too many mistakes to be successful,” said Gore, one of the few remaining players in the locker-room minutes after the game was over. “It’s one of those things that when we need to get a first down and it’s four yards, that’s on the players. It’s not on the scheme, or the coach. It’s a will issue. It comes down to the players come down and performing.”
Brown performed again on special teams, taking a missed Whyte three-point back 124 yards for a touchdown, the second longest run of its kind in franchise history.
But even the little returner, who has been known to sugar-coat his responses at times, went right to the point.
“We have to take ownership,” he said.
It was trouble right from the start, with a pair of two-and-outs. Mind you, at times the best strategy for either team was for the opponent to have the ball, at least until Arland Bruce started wearing down the Lions defence and Tyron Carrier began returning kicks. Carrier had 274 return yards and matched Brown’s major with a punt return of his own.
Montreal’s returner almost had another score, except Lions kicker Paul McCallum neatly tripped Carrier on the way to the end zone, a play that went unflagged.
Still, for all that, the offence was still in a position to win the game thanks to the multitude of interceptions turned in by the Lions. But Lulay couldn’t deliver. Neither could the Lions’ Marsh.
“I take that. I feel like (bleep),” said the veteran corner after Eric Deslauriers beat him to set up the win.
Of all the problems, though, the biggest is on offence.
“There’s frustration,” coach Mike Benevides said when asked if he could detect a difference in Lulay lately.
There was no mistaking how the Lions felt about a game they probably didn’t deserve to win, and threw it away at the end anyway.
“I compare this one to losing my first Grey Cup game,” said Williams, who was in the vicinity of Marsh on the game’s critical play but couldn’t drop the Als quarterback. “This one stinks.”
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