Anthony Calvillo won the duel between the league’s top quarterbacks Thursday, setting a pair of milestones along the way.
Less than two weeks away from his 39th birthday, the Montreal Alouettes quarterback emerged as the CFL’s top gun of 2011 in a 27-4 win over Ricky Ray’s Edmonton Eskimos.
While his performance wasn’t out of the ordinary, his 19 completions on 33 attempts for 261 yards and two touchdowns tipped the scales on some impressive feats.
“He’s just been playing so well the last three or four years, seems like,” said Ray, who completed 21 of 32 for 245 yards, but was kept out of the end zone. “They just execute really well. They’re one of those teams that’s not going to give you a lot of opportunities as far as turning the football over or shooting themselves in the foot.
“You’ve got to come in and play a clean, solid game against these guys and we just weren’t able to do it (Thursday).
Calvillo now heads into the bye week having completed 159 of 244 attempts to average 65.2% for 2,095 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season.
Those numbers pushed him to a league-high 106.2 efficiency rating, passing Ray for the first time this season, as the Eskimos quarterback dropped three points to 105.1 after failing to score Thursday.
For the 18-year veteran Alouettes pivot, it was just another step towards the goal of winning a third consecutive Grey Cup.
But there is another finish line he is on pace to cross prior to playoffs.
Calvillo finds himself just 2,125 yards behind gridiron football’s all-time passing leader Damon Allen.
“I really made a special effort to mentally get myself ready for this year because I knew a lot of questions would be coming up,” said Calvillo, who threw his 400th touchdown and surpassed the 70,000 passing-yard mark in Thursday’s game. “If I could stay healthy and the yards would come and we win games, that those things were going to come naturally.”
While much is being made of the upcoming aerial accomplishment, Calvillo is keeping his own expectations firmly grounded.
“It’s something that I don’t go home and think about because I think it would be a distraction for me as I get ready for a football game,” he said. “It’s something that when you start your career off, you don’t anticipate and think about setting all the records. Your main objective is to make a team, be a starter, be a consistent quarterback, win a championship — that’s been my main focus from the beginning.
“Now that we’ve won a few, nothing has changed for me.”
He’s still the same Anthony Calvillo who began his professional career with the Las Vegas Posse back in the 1994 U.S. expansion era.
“Now that I see my name in the record book and close to all these other great quarterbacks, to be honest with you it’s very humbling because I look at where I came from back in California,” Calvillo said. “The fact that I didn’t have many opportunities to go on to university, not many good looks at all to compete after in other leagues besides, really, the CFL. And I didn’t even know much about it.
“I look back at that whole process and I’m overwhelmed and humbled because at every single time I was done, whether it was high school or college, I didn’t know what to expect. And believe me, professional football was not on the top of my list.”
No, but Calvillo’s name is about to be on the top of professional football’s list.