The Tiger-Cats performance in their 17-28 loss to the Montreal Alouettes in Montreal was a fitting summary of the Tiger-Cats 2022 season. The Tiger-Cats came into the game with a 4 game winning streak to earn the 3rd playoff spot in the East division, and with that winning streak, there were expectations that Hamilton would play well.
But what followed was a Tiger-Cats team that started the game lacking attention to detail and failing to get a foothold in the first half. The Alouettes started the game with a big kick return, the Alouette’s offence played efficient football, and the Montreal defence made the Tiger-Cats pay for their lack of an effective game plan led by quarterback Dane Evans who struggled with decision-making in key situations. This resulted in a 22 to 6 deficit going into halftime.
But the Tiger-Cats made adjustments to attempt to make a run to come back and take the game from Montreal. Matt Shiltz got the nod to lead the Tiger-Cats offence, and he came out of the gate hitting Tim White, Steven Dunbar Jr., and Anthony Johnson. He was able to execute a drive that concluded with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
With the game being 14 to 22, the momentum of the game lay with the Tiger-Cats and it seemed like the Alouettes were ripe for blowing a lead. But as the Tiger-Cats have done throughout the 2022 season, Hamilton failed to execute on offence in crunch time. The Tiger-Cats had opportunities to score a touchdown that potentially could have pulled the Tiger-Cats into a lead, but turnovers and missed opportunities dashed the Tiger-Cats hopes to continue their winning streak in East Semi-Final games. This is similar to the Tiger-Cats regular season in which it seemed like the Tiger-Cats had their problems with their offence and special teams solved only to find out that bad habits were just around the corner to change the flow of the game.
It would be easy to view this disappointing playoff performance as a Tiger-Cats failure to execute and win a big game. But in this situation, it is more accurate to say that the Montreal Alouettes played at a much higher level than the Tiger-Cats. Trevor Harris, Eugene Lewis, Jake Wieneke, Walter Fletcher, and William Stanback fed off one another to take control of the game.
When the Tiger-Cats were working to complete a comeback, the Alouette’s offensive line and running game with William Stanback, were dominant and put the Tiger-Cats away. Montreal demonstrated the ability to execute an effective game plan and maximize its talent and opportunities. The Tiger-Cats attempted to push back and give themselves a chance but down the stretch, Montreal overpowered them and played at a higher level.
As the Tiger-Cats now enter the off-season they will need to assess their roster, and potentially their coaching staff, and look for moves they can make to help the Tiger-Cats return to their 2019 form. Most likely Hamilton will not strip down their roster and commit to re-building, so it will important for the Tiger-Cats to fill their talent gaps from the 2022 season so that they can compete at a high level in 2022.
If the Tiger-Cats need a role model concerning building a championship program then they will need to see how Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg are working to consistently play at a high level during the season. Today, it was easy to see that Montreal’s ability to play efficient football and control the game, gives the Alouettes a chance to move one step closer to the Grey Cup championship game.
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