Some coaches never learn

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Nobody can ever accuse Don Matthews of learning from other people's mistakes.

The Montreal Alouettes coach had a gutsy call backfire on him Saturday night in B.C. when he decided to try a two-point conversion when only down by one point with 50 seconds remaining.

A pass from Anthony Calvillo to Ben Cahoon failed and the Als lost to the still-undefeated Lions. The call was similar to Jim Barker's all or nothing third-down attempt two years ago when he was head coach of the Calgary Stampeders.

On that play, a pass from Marcus Crandell to Darnell McDonald failed and the Stamps lost by three to the Alouettes.

The curious thing was Matthews stood on the sidelines that night and watched Calgary hand over a victory instead of pushing Montreal further into overtime.

Matthews had the opportunity to take the Lions to overtime but decided to try and stick a knife in the Lions perfect season.

Only time will tell if the missed opportunity hurts the Als as much as it did the Stamps in 2003, when Calgary struggled to a 5-13 record.

The Alouettes had crawled back from a 15-point deficit to nearly tie the game at that point and were clicking on offence. They also targeted injured halfbacks Mark Washington and Ryan Phillips and were moving the ball consistently. Facing off in the shootout overtime would have given them a decent chance at winning.

"(I was) trying to win the game," Matthews told the Montreal Gazette about his decision. "Taking our chances from the five-yard line, I thought that was the better chance."

Typically, the reaction from players after was simply to say, "That's Don." So if history has told us anything, Matthews is wearing out his welcome in Montreal.

OPENING DRIVE: Best line of the week comes courtesy of Barre Campbell of the Ottawa Sun: "It's tough to figure out what's more scary: The play of the Ottawa Renegades or The Exorcism of Emily Rose" ... Here's an interesting stat: The last time Marcus Crandell won three straight starts were the West semifinal, West final and Grey Cup in 2001. There are other similarities to the season during which Crandell took the Stampeders to a championship and this campaign in Saskatchewan. He is taking over for an established player, is playing in his first season with a new team and trying to prove he can still play in this league. This certainly doesn't mean the 'Riders are Grey Cup contenders, though ... Poor Rob Hitchcock. The Tiger-Cats linebacker was the undisputed poster boy in Hamilton until Jesse Lumsden arrived last week. Now the rookie running back has been dubbed the 'Hamilton Hottie' by the Spectator and Hitchcock, who often appears on magazine covers and television due to his good looks, will have to live without face time. "I feel something's passed me by," Hitchcock, 34, told the National Post. "With that picture of Jesse, the throne is passed over to him now. So I'm just waiting in the wings to see what's happening next." ... Speaking of local stud attractions, the Als cut long-haired defensive lineman Marc Megna yesterday, likely an unpopular move with female fans in Montreal.

ENDZONE TOSS: The best sign Jon Ryan is a golden-child punter in Winnipeg: He picked up a bad snap in a win against Ottawa and ran 15 yards for the first down. Ryan is heading into his option year next season, so with his booming leg and ability to place the ball, the NFL could come calling. The 23-year-old leads the league with a 51.3-yard gross average and eight singles ... There's something about Regina the Edmonton Eskimos must not be able to handle. With their thrilling 37-36 win Sunday, the Roughriders have beaten the Eskimos the past four times at Taylor Field, all but the latest by large margins. Saskatchewan has outscored Edmonton 154-77 since 2002 in Regina ... Amazingly, Lions QB Dave Dickenson is still hitting targets at a 75.8% clip, thanks in large part to 16 straight completions to finish off a victory against Montreal Saturday. Dickenson has still thrown only three interceptions and his quarterback rating has grown to 124.1, which would crush the CFL season record.

EXTRA POINTS: The pendulum has swung again among the kicking fraternity in the CFL. Stamps K Sandro DeAngelis, who was an early favourite for rookie of the year with his consistency, has hit only 14-of-23 since starting the season with 11 straight. To his credit, DeAngelis is still perfect within 30 yards and his struggles haven't hurt the team. Lions K Duncan O'Mahony has gone the other way after struggling earlier, hitting seven of his last eight. Eskimos import K Hayden Epstein, who hit his first five in the league, went only two of five in a loss Sunday to the Roughriders, although one was blocked ... Khari Jones just chuckled at the suggestion Milt Stegall owes him the steering wheel -- or at least the tires -- off the new truck the Winnipeg Blue Bombers gave the receiver for setting the all-time receiving touchdowns record. Stegall caught 59 of his touchdowns from Jones, who's now with Hamilton. "Maybe he'll give me a ride but that's about it," the ever-smiling Jones said ... This just in, Ottawa has added Tony Mandarich and Blair Thomas to their negotiation list, joining Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Tim Couch.

NUMBER 0

The amount of victories Winnipeg has against West Division teams this season. The 4-9 Bombers have five games remaining and, luckily for them, two of them are against East Division teams, against which they hold a 4-2 record.

ON THE FIELD

THURSDAY

Ottawa at Calgary, 8 p.m., TSN (Subject to local blackout)

FRIDAY

Toronto at Saskatchewan, 7 p.m., TSN

SATURDAY

B.C. at Edmonton, 5 p.m., CBC

SUNDAY

Winnipeg at Montreal, 11 a.m., RDS

BYE: Hamilton

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

"A lot of people tried writing us off. They didn't throw enough dirt on us and now we're shaking it off. "

-- Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Danny Barrett, whose team has won three straight after losing five in a row and looking like they were buried in the West Division playoff race.


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