Once again, Anthony Calvillo is poised to break one of Damon Allen's all-time records against the Toronto Argonauts, Allen's former team.
The 18-year CFL veteran quarterback enters Monday's home game against the Argos needing just 258 yards to surpass Allen's career record of 72,153 yards and become pro football's all-time passing leader. If Calvillo does so, it would mark the third time this year he's broken one of Allen's marks versus the Argos.
On July 17, Calvillo threw two TD passes in a 40-17 home win over Toronto to break Allen's all-time record of 394. He currently has 414 career touchdown passes.
Then on Aug. 4 in a 36-23 defeat of Toronto at Rogers Centre, Calvillo registered his 5,159th completion to surpass Allen in that category as well.
Not bad, considering the Los Angeles native had a cancerous thyroid removed in the off-season. But the 39-year-old Calvillo isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
Calvillo, a three-time winner of the CFL's outstanding player award, not only leads the league in passing with 3,963 yards but also in TD tosses (28) and has surrendered just four interceptions. He also boasts the top efficiency rating at 105.2.
With Calvillo at the helm, Montreal leads the CFL in 11 of 25 categories, including total yards per game (415.2), passing yards (326.5) and fewest interceptions (five). The Alouettes also boast the league's top-scoring offence (31.2 points per game) as well as the leading rusher (Brandon Whitaker: 981 yards) and receiver (Jamel Richardson: 83 catches, 1,318 yards, 10 TDs).
TRASH TALK: It's no wonder bold pre-game guarantees don't bother the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. After all, they have tailback Avon Cobourne, who is regarded as the CFL's king of trash talk.
Prior to Hamilton's 27-12 road win over Toronto on Saturday night, linebacker Ejiro Kuale made headlines by guaranteeing an Argos victory. And tailback Cory Boyd suggested he'd run for 200 yards against the Ticats in the game.
Predictably, the Ticats downplayed those remarks. And when asked who was the most entertaining trash-talking player in the CFL, Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn wasted no time coming up with an answer.
"Hands down, it's our guy, Avon Cobourne," Glenn said. "You do not want to get that guy going, honestly.
"Seriously, you do not want to get him going."
Defensive end Stevie Baggs was just as quick with a response when asked which opponent made him laugh with his quick wit on the field.
"Avon Cobourne," he said with a chuckle.
Glenn agreed, adding effective trash-talking is indeed an art form.
"You have to be a different type of person that's able to still be focused and be able to do that during pre-game and the game," Glenn said. "Some guys, they don't have it in them.
"They're so focused on their job and what they're doing that they're not good at trash-talking. But I'd say Avon, I don't know of anybody else, really."
PLAYOFF LIVES: They've lost nine of their last 11 games, but incredibly the Toronto Argonauts are still alive in the CFL playoff race. But that could all end by the start of next week.
Toronto (3-10) is currently fourth in the East Division, eight points behind third-place Hamilton (7-6) with both teams having five regular-season games remaining. The Argos are in Montreal on Monday and a loss to the defending Grey Cup champions would force them to begin looking ahead to 2012.
Hamilton put Toronto's playoff hopes on life support Saturday night with a 27-12 win at Rogers Centre. That gave the Ticats the season series, and thus the tiebreaker if the two teams somehow finished tied in the standings.
Amazingly, Toronto would still remain in playoff contention even if Hamilton beat Winnipeg (8-5) on Friday night. The Argos have lost two-of-three games to the Bombers but one more head-to-head meeting remains, thus keeping the Double Blue's very slight playoff hopes alive.
WRONG CALL: The football gods were clearly looking down upon the CFL on Friday night.
Twice the Montreal Alouettes stopped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from their one-yard line to preserve a 32-26 victory. What made the Als' goal-line stand so significant is it came following a controversial pass interference call that put the Bombers there in the first place.
The game appeared to end after Winnipeg's Alex Brink threw an incompletion in the end zone on third-and-10 from the Montreal 27-yard line. But the Bombers amazingly got a new life when Alouettes' rookie cornerback Greg Laybourn was incorrectly flagged for pass interference at the goal-line on Bombers' receiver Greg Carr, putting the ball at the one-yard line with seconds remaining.
What made the call so stunning was just how clearly wrong it was. Television replays showed the ball was bouncing yards away and Laybourn moved towards Carr and put his arms around the receiver, who was nowhere near capable of making a play on the ball.
So instead of the game being over, Winnipeg took two cracks at running in for the winning touchdown but Brink was turned back both times by Montreal's defence.
Tom Higgins, the CFL's director of officiating, said on the league's website the penalty against Laybourn was the wrong call. Fortunately, it didn't come back to haunt the Alouettes, who improved to 8-5 with the win and moved into a first-place tie with Winnipeg atop the East Division standings.
On Monday, the CFL announced that side judge Rick Berezowski, who made the controversial call, would be replaced. A league spokesman said that the decision was performance based, but not solely the result of Friday's call.
NOTES: The Bombers made two moves Monday, acquiring punter Jamie Boreham from Saskatchewan for future considerations and placing veteran quarterback Michael Bishop on the practice roster. Winnipeg punter Mike Renaud is averaging 42.1 yards per punt this year but has been criticized for his consistency as well as being flagged too often for kicking the ball out of bounds ahead of the 20-yard line. With injury concerns for both starter Buck Pierce and backup Alex Brink, the 35-year-old Bishop will serve as an insurance policy for the Bombers. It's the same role he assumed earlier this season in Calgary when backup Drew Tate was injured . . . After supplanting Joffrey Reynolds in the starting backfield, Canadian Jon Cornish has surpassed Reynolds as the Calgary Stampeders' rushing leader. Cornish ran for a career-high 149 yards and two TDs in the Stamps' 40-3 win over Saskatchewan on Saturday, giving him 485 yards rushing on the season. Reynolds, Calgary's career rushing leader who sat out his second straight game as a healthy scratch, has 458 yards. Cornish is averaging a stellar 7.8 yards per carry, three yards more than Reynolds . . . How dominant has Montreal's offence this season? The Als sport the CFL's leading passer (Anthony Calvillo, 3,963 yards), leading rusher (Brandon Whitaker, 981 yards) and leading receiver (Jamel Richardson, 1,318 yards and 10 TDs) . . . It's easy to see why Toronto (3-10) and Saskatchewan (4-9) sport the CFL's two worst records: The Argos have committed a league-high 42 turnovers while Saskatchewan is second with 36. Toronto has surrendered 19 interceptions and 15 fumbles (both league highs) while the Riders have turned it over 14 times on downs (also a league high). Toronto (20.2 points per game) and Saskatchewan (21.2 points) are also at the bottom of CFL scoring while their defences are allowing the most points in the league (29.6 per game for Saskatchewan, 28.5 per game for Toronto).