The CFL playoff picture is a lot clearer.
Arland Bruce and S.J. Green each reeled in a pair of touchdown passes as the Montreal Alouettes pretty much eliminated Edmonton’s chances of catching them for a cross-over playoff spot through the East Division, crushing the Eskimos 47-24 on Saturday.
It was the second consecutive win for the Alouettes, who improved to 6-8.
“Any win is big for us this year,” Bruce said. “We’ve let a lot of wins get past us. We lost some games that we should have come out on top of. To get back-to-back wins is good for us. We can’t stop here, though. We have to keep going and piling up the wins.”
Alouettes quarterback Josh Neiswander, who threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns, said it was good to essentially remove the Eskimos from their rear view mirror.
“It’s nice to have the breathing room,” he said. “We knew that this was a big game for both teams. Winning certainly gives a bit of space but we still have a lot of work to do.
“Any time you can get a win, whether against the first place team or the last place team, it is big for confidence. You can tell that in our locker room right now. Just getting a win of any kind was big for us.”
Edmonton (3-11) would need to win its remaining four games and to have Montreal lose its final four games to even have a shot at playing in the post-season.
It was pretty obvious that even Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed considered that chance as tantamount to slim or none.
“It was really disappointing,” he said. “I apologize to our fans that we didn’t give them the kind of season they deserved. That’s a personal apology. It’s extremely disappointing that we have played this way today, again.”
The Eskimos failed to get on the scoreboard on their first drive when Hugh O’Neill missed a 47-yard field goal attempt, and Montreal showed them how it was done.
Brandon London started off a rapid drive with a 54-yard catch-and-run play, eventually setting up a diving six-yard catch in the end zone by Green on a pass from Neiswander to put the Alouettes up 7-0 five minutes in.
Edmonton marched back into the Montreal zone, but again came away with no points as quarterback Mike Reilly was picked off by Jerald Brown at the Montreal nine-yard line.
The Alouettes quickly took advantage as a 62-yard passing play to Bruce set up a 22-yard TD pass as Green caught a Neiswander pass, dropped the ball, but picked it up again before plunging across the goal line with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
The Eskimos finally got on the board just before the end of the first quarter as a 45-yard one-handed catch by Adarius Bowman set up a 24-yard O’Neill field goal to make it 14-3. It also broke a run of 47 unanswered points scored against the Eskimos heading back to their loss last week to Toronto.
Montreal was full value for its third drive as well, as Troy Smith capped off a competent march with a one-yard TD run.
The Edmonton comedy of errors continued with just under five minutes to play in the second quarter as Chris Thompson picked off a Neiswander pass, only to then fumble it and see the Als come away with the ball at the Edmonton 33-yard line. It led to a 37-yard Sean Whyte field goal and a 24-3 lead for Montreal.
The Alouettes padded their lead to 31-3 before the intermission as Mike Edem picked off Reilly and brought the ball back 38 yards to the Edmonton 12. That play set up a six-yard TD pass to Bruce.
Edmonton gave the hook to Reilly in favour of backup Jonathan Crompton to start the second half. Reilly playing in the game at all was a controversial decision, as he was coming off a concussion in his last game against Toronto.
A Montreal punt single was the lone scoring play in the third quarter.
The Alouettes went up 39-3 early in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard pass to Bruce, who went up and fought the ball away from defender Eric Samuels.
After another punt single by Montreal, Edmonton finally got into the end zone as Crompton hit Shamawd Chambers with a 31-yard touchdown pass to make it 40-10.
Chambers caught his second touchdown pass of the game from six yards out with four and a half minutes remaining as the Eskimos had some late success with the game already out of reach.
Edmonton continued to make the game look closer than it was as Joe Burnett intercepted a pass and took it back 56 yards, setting up a seven-yard TD pass to Fred Stamps with three minutes left.
Montreal officially put the game away with a seven-yard TD run by Tyrell Sutton with a minute and a half left.
The Eskimos head to Saskatchewan to face the Roughriders next Saturday. The Alouettes next game is at home against Winnipeg on Monday, Oct. 14.
Notes: Edmonton leads the all-time regular season series with the Als dating back to 1961 by a count of 37-29-2. However, Montreal won the most recent game in July 32-27 and has now won eight straight over the Eskimosa Reilly was something of a surprise start, having been cleared to play after suffering a concussion last week. Reilly left the game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts in the second quarter last Saturday after taking a hit to the head from defensive lineman Cleyon Lainga Eskimos tailback Hugh Charles returned to the lineup after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury... Former Eskimo turned Montreal running back Jerome Messam made his first appearance in Edmonton since being traded to the Alouettes. Messam has seen limited use by the pass-focused Als, entering the game with 92 carries for 429 yards and two touchdownsa As part of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame game ceremonies, the 2013 class of inductees was introduced at the half. Inducted this year were Brian Fryer, Earl Winfield, Dan Ferrone, Miles Gorrell, Jake Ireland and Don Loney.