MONTREAL — It was the ugliest display of football by the Edmonton Eskimos this year.
Telling his players before yesterday's game that they needed to start playing "playoff football", Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia saw his club fall on its face countless times.
Sliced and diced on defence and completely inept on offence, the Eskimos were hammered 40-4 by the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The loss means Edmonton blew a chance to move into a three-way tie for first place in the West Division.
At 7-5, the Esks are now tied for second with B.C. in the West Division at 14 points.
“We are all totally embarrassed,” said Maciocia.
“We were terrible today. If I start talking about it I will miss my flight (home).
“Defence couldn’t stop them, offence couldn’t do anything, special teams didn’t do much.”
Added Edmonton receiver Kamau Peterson: “Apparently we didn’t get off the plane. Hats off to Montreal, they were the better team today. Hopefully the Eskimos can show back up at a later date.”
The 36-point loss marked the worst Edmonton defeat in Montreal since the Als came back into the CFL in 1996.
The four-point offensive performance by the Esks was the worst since Oct. 27, 2001, when the club scored three points against Saskatchewan.
“That is a butt kicking. We couldn’t do anything right. We just weren’t ready to play today,” said Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray, who passed for 156 yards before being pulled in the second half.
Right from the opening kickoff, the Alouettes offence started to pound the Eskimos.
In fact, Montreal scored on all six of its first half drives. The Als ran 46 offensive plays in the first half (25 more than Edmonton) and produced 30 points from three touchdowns and three field goals.
Montreal pivot Anthony Calvillo had 299 passing yards in the opening two quarters while the Als racked up a stunning 380 yards of total offence by the end of the first half.
If it wasn’t for the overworked Esks defence - Montreal held an 11-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half - holding the Als to three field goals in the red zone in the first 30 minutes it would have been worse.
As for the brutal Edmonton offensive display, the Esks offensive line couldn’t handle the Als’ rush (six sacks) and the fumble parade continued with four more yesterday.
“We had trouble establishing rhythm and when we did we shot ourselves in the foot - fumbling, guys were taking penalties and we were turning it over,” added Peterson.
“This is the second or third week when it hasn’t quite felt right as an offence.
“Hopefully it will be a wake-up call for us.
“It is certainly discouraging that in a big game like this that is the type of performance we put up.”
The Eskimos would probably like to burn the final stats sheet. Montreal receiver Ben Cahoon had nine catches for 106 yards. Fellow receiver Jamel Richardson had eight grabs for 150 yards (58-yard first-half touchdown). And Kerry Watkins added eight more catches for 109 yards and the lone second-half Montreal major.
Running back Mike Imoh had a 6.7-yard rushing average and two first-half touchdowns for the Als.
Edmonton defensive back Jordan Younger simply said the defence was “out schemed” by Montreal.
The Esks now have just four days to prepare for Friday’s tilt in Winnipeg.
“We will try to digest (the loss). I don’t know if we can,” said Maciocia.