Say bye to momentum

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:07 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Alouettes 41, Renegades 18

They left too early and came back too late.

That's the sad truth surrounding the Renegades bye week, and how they sandwiched two discouragingly poor performances around it.

Suddenly, high hopes have been hit like Kerry Joseph in the pocket. Just like that, Ottawa has gone from 5-3 and first place to 5-5 and third.

The Renegades were brutal in Winnipeg Aug. 19, losing the game 38-17 as well as a chance to establish themselves as an East Division frontrunner. They'll deny it, but the players allowed their minds to wander that night. Many of them had plane tickets to southbound destinations. The next morning, they were going home for the holidays.

Fourteen days later, they come back worse. The offence clearly thought the 7:30 p.m. game last night in Montreal started at 9. For that's about when Joseph combined with Jason Armstead on a 56 yarder that would be the visitors only touchdown when a 41-18 final was still up for grabs.

Joseph was mostly erratic for the second straight outing. No wonder. He was sacked five times and rushed many, many more. It must be tough to work with 280-lb. angry, violent men wanting to decapitate you.

"Poor guy, he was back there getting hit every play," said centre George Hudson. "I want to see the film ... it seemed like there was a breakdown everywhere."

It started with the schedule.

Teams entering bye weeks were 2-5 before last night, a stat that gave Ottawa some hope as the Alouettes are now off until a Sept. 17 game in B.C. The Als are one of the teams who do not punch the clock before the whistle, however, as they beat Edmonton 32-29 before their last week off.

As for the Renegades, the good news is they don't have another break until mid-October. For now, they say bye-bye to the bye.

And to that, Renegades fans who want to see their team in the playoffs can only say thank God.

High and Outside:

It's becoming a bad idea to get a head start on the concession lineups at halftime of Renegades games. After giving up a 75 yard Chris Brazzell touchdown on the last play of the first half the last time they played, the Renegades turned the tables last night. Taking control of the ball 39.7 seconds before the break, Joseph threw a pass to Frank Cutolo, handed off to Josh Ranek then combined with Armstead on a 56-yard score -- and suddenly, with 14 seconds left on the clock, the Renegades trailed by just five at 12-7. The play by Armstead -- who kept his balance while bouncing off two DBs in making up for an earlier fumble -- kept the Renegades in the game and spared them from what might have been the worst 30 minutes the offence has ever put up ... Only at Percival Molson Stadium do you enjoy smoked meat and hotdogs in the pressbox at halftime -- and second- hand reefer fumes courtesy of fans a couple of rows below. Honest boss, I didn't inhale ... Concern over the Renegades' punting game turned out to be mostly, if not all, for not. Rookie Mark Irvin was able to get the ball away and deep enough, averaging 39 yards with eight punts. And the coverage was exceptional, as Terrence Jones returned the six that didn't go out of bounds for a total of eight yards.

Quick Slants:

As it turned out, the 'Gades missed injured punter Pat Fleming most for his holding on field goal tries. That job fell to third string QB Darnell Kennedy, who didn't start practising it until Thursday. With the Renegades in position to close the deficit to 12-10 early in the third quarter, Kennedy bobbled the snap on a 14-yard field goal try. He wound up deciding to run it in, only to get stopped short of the goal line, and the Renegades wound up with nothing to show for their efforts. "It went through my hands," Kennedy said of the snap. "I think I could have put it down, but I wasn't sure if he'd be able to kick it or not." Kennedy thought he was going to be able to score a TD, but didn't know Tim Strickland was so close behind him. Meanwhile, that's as close as the Renegades got to the Als the rest of the night ... A fine tackle by Kyries Hebert on one play and a pass knockdown by Bo Rogers the next held the Als to three points when they were staring at seven on their first possession. "Our defence, for the most part, played well," said coach Joe Paopao. "They jut ran out of gas." He forgot to add the word "again." ... The Renegades are planning to sell the left over beads from Mardi Gras Madness to raise money for the hurricane victims in New Orleans ... It's midway through the third quarter and the boys in the seats outside the press box have sparked up another one. This column will now be interrupted while its writer goes downstairs to try and find some ju- jubes.

Extra Points:

A former NFL safety, it appeared as though Joseph would have a shot at stopping Richard Karikari short of the end zone after the Montreal safety picked off one of his passes and ran it three quarters of the field for a touchdown. Alas, he quit on the play. Rather than pulling up at the 10 yard line, Joseph might have tried to push Strickland into Karikari, since Strickland was running alongside him and seemingly well within Joseph's pushing range.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos