With road win at Elks, Alouettes will lock up home playoff game

It comes with a caveat attached to it, but the Montreal Alouettes’ recent string of defensive domination is rather impressive.

As it prepares for a Saturday road date with the Edmonton Elks, Montreal (9-7) has won three straight, allowing only 29 points in that span. In Monday’s 29-3 rout of Ottawa, the Alouettes notched their eighth defensive touchdown of the year on Tyrice Beverette’s 35-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter.

“This is pretty special, what these guys have been able to accomplish,” first-year Montreal coach Jason Maas said of the defense. “It’s huge. It blows games open, obviously. Points are points. It doesn’t matter how you get them.”

The one qualifier to the Als’ current stretch of great defense is that the three wins have been at the expense of 4-12 Ottawa (twice) and 4-11 Calgary. In fact, Montreal is 0-7 against the top three teams in the league (Winnipeg, B.C. and Toronto) and 9-0 against everyone else.

If the Alouettes continue their trend of beating up on the weak teams this week, it will allow them to clinch home-field advantage for an East Division playoff game on Nov. 4 against Hamilton. They lead the Tiger-Cats by one game with two games left but have the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.

As for the Elks (4-12), they are merely fulfilling contractual obligation, their playoff hopes having expired last week after a 35-12 loss in Toronto put them two games behind Saskatchewan with two games left and the tiebreakers against them.

Edmonton moved the ball well at times as quarterback Tre Ford threw for 220 yards and ran for 47. But he also tossed a costly pick-six in the third quarter.

“I thought we had opportunities today but we just came out in the second half and didn’t do well,” Ford said. “And a lot of that started with me as a quarterback. I just don’t think our offense executed at a high enough level.

“I threw a pick-six, which obviously doesn’t help when you’re trying to win football games. So a lot of it’s on me.”

This is the teams’ only meeting of the year.