Going into Thursday night?s game, the Montreal Alouettes were the most dreaded beast in the CFL. Rumbling through every opponent unfortunate enough to stumble across their path, the Al?s 6-0 record was matched by wide speculation ? both from within the changeroom and from the broadcast booths ? that their dream team would finish the 18-game season undefeated.
“Not this year,” was the only answer from their next target, Casey Printers of the Lions. “Maybe 17-1.’
The 23,788 fans who pushed their way through the muggy weather to occupy B.C. Place Stadium were treated to more than a game; they witnessed an epic battle between David and Goliath, one who could take sole possession of first place in their division, and one who was working to maintain it.
The Lions were the hungrier team right from the start, and seemed bolstered by their destruction of the hapless Bombers last week. Of course, a winning history against the Als didn?t hurt, as the visitor?s inability to win in B.C. since August of 2000 seemed to do wonders for the home team?s confidence.
All of the recent adulation and praise being heaped onto Printers has surely gotten to the young quarterback?s head, but fans should have no reason to worry. The CFL Offensive Player Of The Week once again took charge of a team missing its starter Dickenson, and made the most of the opportunity by putting on an impressive speed and accuracy demonstration. Printers completed 18 of 27 passes for a total of 215 yards and two touchdowns, and continued to impress with his mobility and agility in the pocket by scrambling into the endzone once.
The offensive production of the Lions was especially impressive since it was accomplished against the league?s stingiest defensive unit. Montreal maintains the lead in the majority of CFL defensive categories, with its aggressive blitzing and secondary coverage often overpowering opponents and stifling their ability to run up the middle or dump to the sides.
However, B.C.?s defense stole the show, absolutely dominating a timid Alouette?s offense and forcing them to kick for their only points of the game. The dramatic turnaround of the inexperienced group, which hasn?t allowed a touchdown in the last two games, seems to be the last piece of the puzzle. Earlier this season, the squad was pegged as the weak link in the Lion?s Grey Cup push; now, they?re the wall that the team leans on.
This coming Friday will see the surging Ottawa Renegades visit the Lions in what could be a Grey Cup final preview. At this point, improvement isn?t a priority for B.C. Their group have come together, ironed out the wrinkles in their porous defensive secondary and all but settled the quarterback debate. All they need to concentrate on is maintaining the strong play that they have treated fans to recently, and let the rest fall into place.