Als feel pressure after slow start

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo tries his hand -- er foot -- at kicking field goals...

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo tries his hand -- er foot -- at kicking field goals during practice Wednesday. (Sun Media/Rogerio Barbosa)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Maybe the Montreal Alouettes have figured out it is how you finish a season that matters, not how you start.

Or maybe the Alouettes just aren't as good as usual.

The Alouettes (2-2) are on the verge of entering troubling uncharted territory heading into a game against the Argos tonight at Molson Stadium.

The Als haven't been under .500 since they started 0-3 in 1996, their first year back in the CFL after a 10-year absence. And under fourth-year coach Don Matthews, the Alouettes always have been at least tied for first in the CFL East. That streak would come to an end with a loss tonight.

"There is certainly pressure," said Als defensive lineman Ed Philion, whose team, despite its consistently good record, has won just one Grey Cup since re-joining the CFL. "If you don't win football games, they will try to find people that do that. It's no fun around here when you're losing football games. We've got to make sure we get back."

The Als are giving up a CFL-high average of 35 points per game after an embarrassing 51-46 loss against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week for their second loss of the season. Last season, when the Als finished 14-4, they didn't lose their second game until Oct. 2.

The slow start has made headlines here.

"Montreal reminds me of New York," Als linebacker Timothy Strickland said. "They don't accept losing and I'm glad they don't. This city expects us to win. We've got to go out and perform (tonight)."

Of course, the entire mindset changes with a win tonight, which would put the Als in sole possession of first.

"This is the group that went 14-4 last year, the year before went to the Grey Cup and the year before won it," Philion said. "We've done it in the past and we've just got to get back to that. It's not time to panic four games into a season. This will be a big game for us to see where we're at."


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