Hungry Als feast on Lions

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Anthony Calvillo knows, no matter how convincing the Alouettes' win in the CFL East Final -- and it was as convincing as it gets -- the questions are as numerous as cattle huddled out on the Prairies in the winter wind.

Montreal's quarterback showed Sunday he is clearly the CFL's best player in directing the Als to their seventh trip to the Grey Cup this decade, tuning out the B.C. Lions 56-18 and leaving the 53,792 fans in Olympic Stadium at their horn-blowing, Ole-singing best.

But the Als have just one Grey Cup victory to show for their six previous trips, their visits to the Grand National Drunk more often a story of unfilled expectations and a feeling worse than any hangover.

The questions will be there in Calgary, about how the Als have been unable to close the deal, how they have been unable to channel regular-season mastery into Grey Cup rings.

The quarterback will be turned receiver in the days leading up to next Sunday’s showdown vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I’ve prepared myself with ready answers. I know how to prepare myself for that stuff,” said Calvillo, not needing to add he’s had a lot of practice. “I’ve just got to protect the ball. It comes down to a few plays and you try and learn from that experience.”

Truer words were never spoken for that was the story of the dismantling of the Lions, a team — if you can believe it — considered best suited to give the Als a test based on previous results.

The Als, a franchise-record 15-3 in the regular season, weren’t buying it.

“If we went out and played our type of game, it should not be close. That’s what we were telling ourselves,” said Calvillo, who made sure it wasn’t by throwing five touchdown passes, a team playoff record (what, Vince Feragamo never did that?) and tying the CFL playoff record.

“We’ve been telling ourselves we’re the best in the CFL and we had to go out and prove it.”

The Als capitalized on two first-quarter turnovers — a fumble by Lions running back Martell Mallett on a great strip by linebacker Shea Emry — and an interception by Casey Printers that was returned 46 yards by Billy Parker.

Calvillo hit Jamel Richardson on the first play after the fumble and five plays after Parker’s pick, found Kerry Watkins in the end zone to make it 17-3.

“When you score off those,” said Montreal linebacker Anwar Stewart, “it takes the air out of their sails.”

“It was big to capitalize with two touchdowns,” added Calvillo. “If they had been field goals, it might have given them more hope.”

That was pretty much it. Sure, there was more precision passing by Calvillo — he wound up 19-for-28 for 302 yards — and a small spark provided by B.C.’s Ryan Grice-Mullen, whose record-setting 106-yard punt return made it 31-18 early in the second quarter.

But the path of this game was set early.

The Als rubbed it in with a touchdown by Richardson (his third of the game) off a blocked punt and an interception return for a touchdown by John Bowman.

“You almost have to be perfect, which against a team like this,” said Lions coach Wally Buono, “you’re not going to be perfect.”

Added Printers: “When we give them 21 points off of turnovers and give them short field after short field, it makes them look better than they actually are.”

Oh, they’re pretty good, Casey.

That’s hardly been the issue at this time of year.

It’s being good when it matters.

“You don’t go 15-3 on fluke stuff. You don’t do that,” said Richardson. “We’re well-coached, hungry and have confidence right now.

“We’re going back dancing and I brought my good shoes. We’re going to finish this one.”


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