Play you once, beat you twice

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

But the Montreal Alouettes are in town, they're 4-0, one credible broadcaster has already suggested they could go 18-0 and yet nobody gives them a snowball's hope in hell of winning the Grey Cup in Calgary because ... well, they're the Montreal Alouettes.

They can open but they can't close.

Win early, lose late. That's their M.O.

It's been that way throughout the Anthony Calvillo, Ben Cahoon, Brian Chui, Anwar Stewart era. If they could just win another Grey Cup or two to go with the way they've dominated at the start of seasons, their names could go down in history like, oh, I don't know, Jackie Parker, Johnny Bright, Normie Kwong and Rollie Miles.

ONLY ONE

Going into tonight's tilt with an Edmonton Eskimos team they pounded 50-16 in Percival Molson Stadium three weeks ago, you could come to the conclusion the team which has won more games (104) this decade than any other team in the league and made it to six of the last eight Grey Cups but won only one, appears to be constructing a bigger build-up leading to the large letdown than ever before.

The Als have already defeated three Western teams and averaged 44.3 points per game in doing so.

Their statistics through their first four games are simply staggering, none moreso than what happens to the team they beat the week after they beat them. Montreal not only kicks the livin' beejeebers out of you, they mess you up so bad in doing so that you fail to function the following week. They play you once but beat you twice.

They clobbered Calgary 40-27. The defending Grey Cup champs give Winnipeg their only win the following week.

They eviscerated Edmonton 50-16 and the Eskimos lost at home to the B.C. Lions 40-22 the following week.

The Alouettes slaughtered Saskatchewan 43-10 and the Roughriders blew a 22-0 lead to lose to the Eskimos the following week in Regina.

If the Als can win this one, there's every expectation they'll go at least 8-0. Their next three games, with two of them at home, are against Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, three teams on the skids.

The Als have already had 8-0, 6-0 and 7-0 starts to seasons this decade, the latter costing Don Matthews his job when an 0-6 stretch followed in the second half.

"The challenge is to remember to remain humble and hard working and avoid getting cocky and complacent," said Cahoon.

"So far we're doing a great job with that."

Has reading their press clippings been a problem?

"In the past it has," said defensive leader Anwar Stewart. "We always start strong and end up on the short end.

"This year is different," he swears.

"The attitude is different. There are some really good things happening. We're bringing another swagger to this team. Players are like kids again. It's scary. We know it's not a sprint, it's a journey. But there's just something different this year.

"In the past maybe we'd get off to a start like this and start listening to everybody tell us how great we are. In practice maybe we didn't give it. But our practices aren't like that," he said, suggesting the coaches are treating them like they were 0-4 instead of 4-0.

"I hope we don't do that," said coach Marc Trestman. "But I do think it's working hard every day at practice is what's giving us our edge."

DEFENCE-DRIVEN

Stewart says the thing that's exciting to him is that the Als look to be defence-driven more than offence driven despite the rather gaudy offensive statistics Montreal has assembled so far.

And, man, are they driven.

"We're flying around and dominating. We're terrorizing quarterbacks while Anthony Calvillo hasn't been touched."

That stat is staggering. Thirteen sacks for. One against.

Trestman says there something about this edition of the defence.

"It's a defence which wants to be great," he said.

Calvillo says Stewart speaks the truth.

"The difference between this year and any other year is the defence," he said. "It doesn't matter what we're doing on offence."

But they're the Montreal Alouettes. And it's July 30.


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