Hot flashes to build on

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

The defending Grey Cup champs aren't going undefeated this season.

But the Calgary Stampeders knew that before losing 40-27 to the Montreal Alouettes Wednesday night at McMahon Stadium.

It clearly isn't time to throw everything out the window.

This was just one game.

Despite spotting the visitors to a 20-0 lead, the Stamps crawled back through two punt blocks, a kickoff return touchdown, an interception and a forced fumble.

If the offence was clicking in the fourth quarter instead of turning the ball over three times on consecutive possessions, we would be talking about a good start to the title defence.

Instead, there are acute areas of focus for the Stamps, who lost a season- and home-opener for first time since 2005.

"When you are down 20-0 to the best team on offence last year -- at least in stats -- and to come back, we showed a lot of great flashes," Lewis said.

"That's what we did early last year. We showed flashes of being great and times when we were the worst team in the league. When we hit our stride, we put it all together. We know we can make things happen.

"It will take time to hit our stride."

In the five Stamps losses last season, it was usually the defence that allowed a score in the late going.

That happened twice, when Jason Tucker and Romby Bryant scored late touchdowns for Edmonton and Winnipeg, respectively.

This is the first time since John Hufnagel took over as head coach and GM before last season the Stamps lost by more than four points when their starting quarterback finished the game.

Henry Burris, who left a 37-16 Labour Day loss with a toe injury last year, fully takes the blame for the ugly offensive performance. The Grey Cup MVP had an off night, going 17-of-33 passing for 247 yards with one TD and one interception.

And here's an example of how off the Stamps offence was: The game was tied 27-27 early in the final frame, and a touchdown on either of two late drives would have given them the lead.

"We played horribly, but we still had opportunities to win it big in the end," Burris said.

"We just can't step on the field and expect people to roll over for us. We are the king of the cage right now, but we have to bring our 'A' game each and every week."

Although the defence allowed 400 yards on offence, there were some bright spots.

Rookie Tray Blackmon led the team with seven tackles and had a forced fumble. Fellow rookie Tristan Black had four defensive tackles in limited reps, plus blocked a punt.

Safety Milt Collins picked off a tipped ball in what is becoming his specialty, while defensive tackle Justin Brown had six tackles from his position.

So Hufnagel isn't going to let his team panic.

"It's a long season. We lost Round 1 of an 18-round heavy- weight prize fight," said Hufnagel. "The only thing we can say right now is we won't be undefeated this year. We understand how hard it is to win in this league.

"I'm sure everybody on this team reintroduced to themselves the importance of taking advantages when they present themselves."


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