Sports

Test vs. best: Argos fail

By Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun

Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray gets tackled by B.C Lions’ Keron Williams during first-half action in Vancouver last night. (Reuters)

Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray gets tackled by B.C Lions’ Keron Williams during first-half action in Vancouver last night. (Reuters)

VANCOUVER - 

The Argos would end up on the wrong side of the score when so much went wrong on this night, an evening when the Lions weren’t at their best, a game where the visitors simply needed to summon their best.

In the end, it could come down to the end, which, in retrospect and when monitoring the pulse of the game, seemed ludicrous, as unlikely the possibility as the Argos somehow emerging with a win.

But it was there for the taking, despite three quarters of offensive ineptitude, despite the defence yielding big plays on missed tackles or missed assignments.

It was there because the Lions allowed the Argos to hang around long enough, showed no killer instinct and committed far too many mistakes and turnovers.

Up until Toronto’s final drive, which would end in a turnover on downs, the Argos did do a great job in not turning the ball over, which is always a requisite when playing in a hostile setting.

“It wasn’t good enough,’’ began head coach Scott Milanovich in the wake of his team’s 28-23 loss. “And we’re not into moral victories. We’re sick that we didn’t get this one.”

There was a fire in Milanovich’s face, a resolve in his voice that has never been seen before during this season his rookie year in a year of great expectations in Argoland, a look that must somehow filter into his locker room.

Milanovich knew what was at stake, even though he tried to play down the potential gains had the Argos escaped with a win against the CFL’s measuring stick.

Amazingly, the Argos found a way to always stay within striking distance, which is a credit to their mental makeup but in truth it’s also an indictment on how the Lions played.

On this night, it was hard to find that proper balance.

At first glance, one is compelled to dismiss the Argos’ performance, but anytime a game becomes a one possession and the visiting team has possession, there’s a lot that must be said.

“I’ve said it all year long that these guys don’t quit,’’ added Milanovich. “And they believe. We got to get this win on the road.

“I was proud at how we played in the second half, but we got to find a way to win that game.”

Pass protection was an issue for most of the night until Milanovich’s play calling became more aggressive and Ricky Ray, when he wasn’t under pressure, was flinging it down field.

Clearly, though, the Argos simply must get more from their receivers, who had a difficult time creating separation against B.C.’s secondary.

Officiating always comes into play and a holding call to Maurice Mann negated a Spencer Watt touchdown.

For Watt, who grew up in the area, it was the second time this season that a reception for a major would be negated.

“We lost the game, but I think we’ll learn from this,’’ said Watt, who had another big-play reception in the second half. “We’re not that far away from being a really good team. We just got to continue believing and now get ready for another big test.”

That test is in Montreal, where the Argos beat the Als in late July.

There have also been road wins in Calgary and Hamilton, but getting one Saturday night was as big as they come and yet the Argos would come up short.

“Bottom line is we didn’t execute the way we should have,’’ defensive tackle Kevin Huntley said. “We come out with the L. That’s what happens when you take penalties, when you don’t execute your game plan the way you’re supposed to.”

Huntley’s fumble recovery in the opening quarter would open the game’s scoring on one those odd plays you don’t see very often.

Perhaps it would serve as a harbinger of things to come on a night of many odd moments, big plays and big mistakes.

For B.C., turnovers proved its undoing and it nearly denied the Lions a win as they moved to 8-3.

For the Argos, who dropped to 6-5, missed tackles that led to extra possessions and touchdowns and lack of execution by the offence for far too long a stretch ultimately came back to haunt them.

The Argos aren’t that far off, but they need to tighten things up in their secondary, they need better protection for Ray and they need a receiver, in particular an import not named Chad Owens to make plays in the air.

Until then, there will be more nights such as Saturday night.

On nights, a team such as the Argos can somehow manage to work around their shortcomings, but not against a team such as B.C.

The Lions were the better team for most of the night and fittingly it was their defence that sealed the win.

 


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »