The Edmonton Eskimos desperately needed a win on Saturday to hang on to their slim hopes of earning a playoff spot. Instead, they were beaten in virtually every aspect of the game by the Montreal Alouettes, losing 47-24 in front of 28,455 fans—their smallest crowd of the season.
In point of fact, the final score makes the Eskimos look pretty good. Edmonton scored three touchdowns in the final 10 minutes of play to cut a 40-3 deficit in half and make the final score look less embarrassing after Montreal had called off the dogs.
After 14 games, Edmonton is last in the CFL West Division at 3-11, with the second-worst record in the league, ahead of only the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who sit at an even more dismal 2-12.
Starting quarterback Mike Reilly, returning from a concussion suffered last week, was just 13 for 21 in a little over three quarters of play for only 180 yards while also tossing two interceptions in the losing cause. The Eskimos were also not helped by the rushing game, which picked up just 45 yards on the ground.
The defense surrendered 450 yards to Montreal, including four passing touchdowns thrown by starting QB Josh Neiswander, and rushing touchdowns by Tyrell Sutton and Troy Smith.
Even when things went right, they still went wrong.
SJ Green caught and fumbled a pass near the Eskimos end zone in the first quarter that took a favourable bounce right back into his hands, allowing him to score his second touchdown of the game. In the second quarter, with the Alouettes knocking on the door again, Chris Thompson intercepted a Neiswander pass, but receiver Brandon London knocked it free for the fumble which was recovered by Montreal's Eric Deslauriers to keep the march going, leading to another touchdown.
With the game essentially out of reach in the second half, the Eskimos sent backup QB Jonathan Crompton out to finish off the game and although he threw two interceptions in the third quarter, he picked up 21 points on three touchdown passes in the fourth to make things interesting—but it was far too little, far too late.
Anything the Eskimos do for the remainder of the season is also likely to be too little, too late. They have no chance now of catching anyone in their own division for a playoff spot; their only hope is to run the table in their final four games and hope that Montreal doesn't manage one more win in that time.
A tall order considering that the Alouettes are on a two-game winning streak and face the lowly Blue Bombers next week.
Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo