Sports

Argos barely get by Bombers

By Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

The Argos were at their offensive worst, unable to run the ball, unable to pass protect, incapable of making any plays of any consequence down the field.

But when the game needed to be won and when plays were required, the Argos produced.

Ultimately, it’s not how wins are produced but how many, which is not such a bad proposition when a team ends up on the winning side.

Defensively, the Argos were good, the only glitches on some downfield throws the visiting Bombers somehow used to stick around and make the evening competitive.

Neither offence would inspire anything, but the Argos aren’t complaining, not when Ricky Ray and Jason Barnes would hook up on touchdown reception with 2:06 remaining that would vault Toronto to its 25-22 win.

For Ray, who once again had some balls dropped, it was his third touchdown pass of the night.

For Barnes, it would mark his first as an Argo.

But this will be a night when Toronto’s defence would steal the show, playing well enough for long stretches, especially in the second half, until its offence finally put together a drive that would help the Argos improve to 2-2.

The Bombers dropped to 0-4, though defensively they did play well enough to win had their offence mustered anything.

In a bit of turning point between rookie head coach Scott Milanovich and the veteran Ray, they shared one of those rare moments that will define their relationship.

“Ricky said something to me, which is the first time in four games he’s done that,’’ said Milanovich about a sideline moment the two shared in the final quarter.

Ray saw something in Winnipeg’s coverage he felt the Argos should exploit, an observation Milanovich agreed with.

It bodes well for the Argos, who can clearly get better offensively.

As for Ray, Milanovich continues to marvel at Ray’s poise and ability to deliver the football.

“Unflappable,’’ Milanovich said. “He gets hit the mouth and he still has that poise.”

A mid-week game featuring a winless foe is a recipe for a turnstile disaster.

But with the Argos playing some entertaining football, fans did show their support as the paid attendance was 22,485, an increase from Toronto’s home opener against Calgary, which turned out to be high-scoring thriller that wouldn’t be decided until the game’s final play.

Wednesday did have its share of drama, but it lacked the fireworks and big plays.

On this night, defences would step up by forcing turnovers that lended itself to a battle of field position.

After three quarters, the Argos were clinging to an 18-16 lead, which could have easily been reversed had Winnipeg done a better job of securing the football.

Absolutely nothing has gone right for the Bombers, a team that went all the way to last year’s Grey Cup, a team poised to move into a new stadium until delays effectively shut the door on this season.

Under this backdrop, the Bombers would begin the year with three straight losses heading into Wednesday evening, all three on the road because Winnipeg thought its new playpen would be erected sometime this season, a plan that forced the team to hit the road for most of the early season.

Players have been injured, mental lapses have unfolded, stalled drives, missed tackles, name some kind of misstep and Winnipeg has committed it.

Up until Justin Palardy’s late-half field against the Argos, the Bombers had not fashioned a lead in any of their games.

Fittingly, it would be short-lived under the most bizarre of circumstances that would befit this early season theatre of the bizarre.

When a fumble was forced and recovered, the Bombers quickly turned it over to the Argos with an ill-advised throw at a time when the run game was working well for the visitors.

By halftime, the Argos were leading 18-13, which really did not reflect the kind of game it could have been had better offensive execution been exercised.

Surprisingly, the Argos all but abandoned the run game.

The Bombers were bombs away by trying to go deep, occasionally hooking up with long passes, a 55-yarder to Clarence Denmark paving the way for Winnipeg’s major.

With Buck Pierce yet again injured, this time the victim of a foot injury that appeared as innocuous as any during last week’s loss in Regina, the Bombers turned to Brink, who had a short week.

Brink isn’t going to sacrifice his body in Pierce-like fashion, relying instead on arm strength.

For the most part, Brink was able to get enough protection to look down field.

Mind you, it did not begin so well for the Blue Bombers, who turned the ball over on their second play from scrimmage when an unblocked Brandon Isaac came off the edge to force a Brink fumble.

Robert McCune recovered it at Winnipeg’s 38-yard line, where the Argos would require four plays to produce the game’s first touchdown, a seven-yard reception by Cory Boyd.


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