Five plays. It was five plays that decided a surprisingly competitive game between the Cats and Als. Everyone, myself included, expected Hamilton to get walloped. It looked like that would be the case when the Cats could pick up yards, but had a hard time scoring touchdowns. Then the Tabbies staged a spirited comeback that fell just short. At the end of the day it was five plays – three by the Cats and two by the officials – that decided the outcome of this game.
The much maligned Secondary didn't play too bad. Yes, Anthony Calvillo threw for over 350 yards, but that had more to do with the Cats getting very little pressure. Dee Webb played well in his first game with Hamilton, especially considering he was guarding Jamel Richardson (aka the best Receiver in football) all game. Some nice plays were made by the other DBs, and the play of Woodny Turenne was admirable considering it was his first game.
The two-Quarterback system was not great but it didn't hurt either. Quinton Porter couldn't get the team in the end zone, during the bulk of his playing time (he threw a touchdown to Dave Stala late in the fourth quarter after Kevin Glenn was injured), but he did move the ball and he made some very good reads. Kevin Glenn was his usual self, and even made a nice run for a touchdown. All in all, I'd say it worked. Not as well as the team had hoped, but it was the disaster it could have been.
The Defense as a whole, aside from getting no pass rush, played well enough for the team to win. I especially liked the play of Rey Williams and Markeith Knowlton. Kowlton played perhaps his best game all season, and Williams played with a nasty streak that was evident from the opening play. Good job by both men, and good job by the whole unit.
Here is where I am going to highlight the five plays that decided the outcome of the game.
The first, and most egregious was the the incomplete call on what should have been a Chris Williams touchdown. I don't care what anyone says, that's a touchdown! Williams caught the ball in tandem with the defender (tie goes to the Receiver), went to the ground, maintained possession until the Montreal defender knocked it loose long after both players were on the ground. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a touchdown. How the refs could call anything else is beyond me. It was a brutal call! Just brutal!
The other questionable call by the refs was on the two-point conversion. From the replays it looked like Chip Cox did interfere with Aaron Kelly. This one isn't as bad as the Williams no-TD call. This was a borderline call, but it is one I've seen called many times this year, and it seems odd that on such a crucial play that the flag didn't come out.
Just because the refs made some errors doesn't mean they cost the Cats the game. There were three plays where the Tabbies cost themselves 13 points.
The biggest of those plays was a Chris Williams offside call that negated a Bakari Grant touchdown. Williams seemed to have a problem staying onside for most of the afternoon. But this one offside penalty really hurt.
The final plays were two missed field goals by Justin Medlock. One was from beyond 50 yards, and despite Medlock regularly banging those in, those are never easy. The other was a 40-something-yard attempt that Medlock needs to hit. There was some problems with snapping and holding, but had Medlock made even one of those two field goals, all the other mistakes don't matter.
Despite the loss, it was very heartening to see the team battle through adversity in a hostile environment and nearly come away with a win.
The Cats now sit at 7-8 and it looks all but certain that they will play their playoff game(s) on the road. But they have now played well enough to win in both Winnipeg and Montreal, and only a few key mistakes were the difference between a win and a loss in either city. It should be noted that any playoff game against the Alouettes will be played at Olympic Stadium (as opposed to Montreal's regular-season home of Percival Molson Stadium), so the crowd will be larger and louder.
Up next for the Cats is the red-hot BC Lions. The Lions have won eight straight and will not be an easy team to beat. That said, if the Ti-Cats can play like they did against Montreal, and just cut out the mistakes that they can control, there is no reason to think that they can't get a win.
This was a tough loss, but it was not a bad loss. It is hard to accept losses when the team doesn't give much of an effort. The team gave plenty of effort, and it was five key mistakes that made the difference. Avoid those mistakes – well, avoid the ones that the team can actually control – and a tough loss like this becomes an inspiring win.