On Saturday afternoon, the playoff-bound Argos (11-7) and Alouettes (9-9) closed their 2022 regular season with an exhibition-styled 38-33 Montreal victory over Toronto. It was a stress-free environment for both teams before the do-or-die stakes arrive in the postseason.
The Argos and Alouettes Put On A Good Exhibition
There may not have been playoff ramifications on the line in Week 21. But the Argos and Als, fielding mostly reserve players, put on an entertaining show at BMO Field. The two Eastern rivals combined for 71 points and 729 yards and delivered defensive and special teams scores. The fun preseason-like affair was a stark contrast from last year’s 13-7 meaningless regular-season finale between the Elks and Boatmen in Toronto.
The primary story of Saturday’s unique Montreal-Toronto affair was the reserve quarterbacks.
33-year-old veteran QB Dominique Davis made the most of his opportunity, completing 92 percent of his passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns for the Alouettes, also adding his 13th rushing major. Montreal rookie Davis Alexander saw extensive play in the second half and scored a touchdown on the ground.
But all eyes were on Toronto’s Chad Kelly. The nephew of all-time great QB Jim Kelly made his CFL starting debut and showed flashes of brilliance. Playing in all four quarters, Kelly completed 23 of 35 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 35 yards and finding the end zone with his legs.
It’s a challenging game to evaluate because of the circumstances. However, there were several standouts for the Argonauts in Week 21. WR Dejon Brissett, LT Isiah Cage, RB Daniel Adeboboye, WR Juwan Brescasin, LB Jonathan Jones, and KR Jeremiah Haydel all had shining moments. Cage stands out because he is someone who has had multiple concussion issues this season. Returning and playing at a top level is a positive sign for him and the team. But it’s difficult to overlook how well Chad Kelly played in his first CFL start.
Many American quarterbacks and eventual all-time CFL greats on the pivot have struggled in their first games up north. Often, rookie QBs have displayed that deer-in-the-headlights look. Chad Kelly might make mistakes and play a risky style, but he certainly didn’t play with fear in his first start. The swagger that earned him the nickname “Swag Kelly’ was on full display in the Six. The future looks bright for him in the CFL. Saturday was the first sample and glimpse.
Montreal is heading home as they prepare for an Eastern semi-final rematch from 2021 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The winner next Sunday will advance to the East Final to square off with the Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field on Sunday, November 13th.
Argos East Final Result Will Determine Success Or Failure
For an Argonauts team that sat 18 starters in Game #18. The goal of the 2022 regular season was already accomplished a week ago. The regular-season finale was all about evaluating the team’s young reserve players. And ultimately staying healthy as they head towards a well-earned bye before their most important game of the entire season arrives.
As the great Ben Grant from Xs And Argos pointed out, who coincidentally did a phenomenal job on Saturday’s game as colour commentator alongside Mike Hogan on TSN 1050 radio. The Argonauts have had years where they have secured many victories in the regular season and have not won it all. And seasons where they didn’t win very many games but ended up hoisting a Grey Cup. What happens next will determine the quality of the 2022 Argonauts season.
The 2022 season for the Argos all comes down to whether they can exercise the demons of how 2021 ended and head to Saskatchewan for a chance to win their 18th Grey Cup. Either Montreal returns to BMO in two weeks, or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats return to Toronto for a sequel to last year’s East Final. The Battle of the QEW documentary series debuting this coming week on TSN might need to add additional footage if the latter happens.