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55 Yard Line

Everyone thought the Calgary Stampeders had won, including the CFL’s official website

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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The CFL's website, like most people, thought Calgary had won Thursday.

For most of Thursday night's CFL action, the underdog Calgary Stampeders looked firmly in command against the Montreal Alouettes even without injured starting quarterback Drew Tate. Kevin Glenn generally looked capable in relief, Jon Cornish bounced back from a slow start, backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell scrambled for two touchdowns and the defence put tons of pressure on Anthony Calvillo, giving the Stampeders a five-point lead inside the final two minutes. That's when Glenn made one of the most boneheaded plays of the year, though, throwing the ball to a covered receiver and underthrowing it to the degree that it was easy for Montreal defensive back Jerald Brown to jump the route and pick the ball off. Brown took it back to the one-yard line before fumbling, but teammate Kyries Hebert recovered, and Calvillo eventually got the Alouettes into the end zone with a pass to rookie fullback Patrick Lavoie, giving them a one-point lead. The Stampeders' subsequent drive failed, and they came away with an improbable 33-32 loss; as you can see from the photo at the top, the CFL's own site refused to admit that for a while (that's a screengrab I took at 11:10 p.m. Eastern Thursday, and it still wasn't fixed by 11:30, although the score was correct in the off-screen right-hand column), and everyone on the Stampeders' side is probably wishing the website was right.

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Kevin Glenn and the Stampeders threw this one away.

This has to go down as a spectacularly blown opportunity for the Stampeders. They had chances throughout to win this one and got to Calvillo in a way few teams ever do, sacking him four times over the course of the night. Things were so bad many Alouettes' fans left. However, that ferocious defence settled down late in the game, paving a way for Montreal's comeback. Even with that, though, Calgary was still in command until Glenn inexplicably decided to throw a hopeless pass. If he chucks that ball away, the Stampeders would at least be able to punt and pin the Alouettes deep, and the Montreal offence still wasn't clicking on all cylinders. Glenn gambled with only minimal chances of success, though, and his team paid the price. They still almost managed to stop the Alouettes, first by forcing Brown's fumble and then by stopping Montreal's first two goal-line plays, but Calvillo finally picked them apart on third-and-three, giving the Alouettes a one-point lead.

Even there, it was still far from over for Calgary, though. Montreal missed the two-point conversion, meaning the Stampeders only needed a rouge to tie or a field goal to win, and they had a full minute to work with. Glenn slowly moved the team down the field and didn't throw to the sidelines, though, so the clock kept running and the Stampeders eventually ran out of time. They did so rather suddenly, arguing that there was still a second on the clock, but the officials ruled against them, meaning that their final play was a pointless short completion over the middle rather than a desperate punt or Hail Mary that would have had at least a chance of success. The odds were still against them, but the Stampeders didn't even try to roll the dice, and that led to their loss here.

On the whole, though, there are things for the Stampeders to be happy with. Glenn ran the aerial offence effectively for much of the night, completing 26 of 36 passes (72 per cent) for 267 yards and only turning the ball over once. That's a great performance from a backup quarterback in general, and if the team can convince him to make better decisions than the one that led to the late interception, he could be quite the suitable fill-in during Tate's absence. Cornish had a rough start and didn't have a great overall night (10 carries for 36 yards), but he was better late in the game and fought through several tackles for a touchdown. The defence put phenomenal pressure on Calvillo, sacking him four times, which isn't easy to do; Calgary only sacked him once in Week One and Winnipeg never managed a sack last week. Given that they were 6.5 point underdogs heading into this, a one-point loss isn't bad at all for the Stampeders. It's the chances they had to make that CFL.ca result reality rather than error that will stick in their heads, though.

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