Argos pounded in Moncton

Eskimos running back Calvin McCarty pushes the ball over the line to score a touchdown against the...

Eskimos running back Calvin McCarty pushes the ball over the line to score a touchdown against the Argonauts at Moncton Stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick on September 26, 2010. (PAUL DARROW/Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

MONCTON — Pathetic in Touchdown Atlantic.

Six points, six turnovers and a lot of nothing else.

The Argonauts were a blight on a historic game in the Canadian Football League, unveiling their worst performance of the season for a capacity crowd of 20,725 at Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium that had been clamouring all week for its initial taste of pro football.

It was the first regular-season game in the CFL played at a neutral site, and commissioner Mark Cohon likely will announce in the next two months a multiyear agreement to keep the league coming back to the region.

And if the CFL wants to market its game properly, leave the Argos at home next time.

Toronto played mistake-filled football and blew a chance to move into sole possession of second place in the East Division, losing 24-6 to the Edmonton Eskimos and losing starting quarterback Cleo Lemon to a concussion in the process.

“We had a great week of practice, there was a lot of excitement, and in all facets of the game, to show up like that, was an embarrassment,” offensive lineman Rob Murphy said. “I’m livid, plain and simple.”

The Argos more or less pretended it was Grey Cup week, arriving last Tuesday night and taking part in several team and fan functions in the days leading up to the game. With six games remaining before the playoffs, the Argos can keep pretending all they want if they don’t start to improve.

Toronto has lost four of its past five, and not once in any of those outings have they scored as much as 18 points. Where was the offence on Sunday that head coach Jim Barker was anticipating? Running back Cory Boyd missed a second game in a row with a concussion, but the receiving corps was at full strength for the first time all year.

It didn’t matter.

Lemon threw four interceptions before he was hurt, Dalton Bell threw one, and even Reggie McNeal, on a receiver option, threw a pick.

Barker said he and his staff were debating pulling Lemon before he was injured, but didn’t.

The Argos and Eskimos dragged the worst offences and defences in the league into the game and were tied 0-0 after one quarter. But then the game started to get away from the flat Argos, and Lemon, nursing a finger problem on his throwing hand, began to throw the ball to the wrong team.

Lemon’s first interception was snared by Eskimos linebacker Rod Davis, who ran 74 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Edmonton a 7-0 lead. Toronto got it back when Jeff Johnson ran in from one yard, but the Argos, their minds elsewhere, let the Esks’ Greg Peach jump up and block the convert attempt. That almost never happens in football.

“We just played poorly, too many turnovers,” Barker said. “The first interception for a touchdown, the running back (Anthony Alridge) doesn’t run the right route and he should have taken (Davis) out of the play but he didn’t. That guy should not have been there. But there are no excuses.”

How brutal were the Argos? The Eskimos had 247 interception return yards, the second-most in one game in CFL history. Saskatchewan, in a game against Calgary in 1972, had 291 interception return yards.

The Argos organization, as a whole, should be greatly disappointed in the lack of effort after so many players wanted to thank the city of Moncton with a great show.

The team itself has six games left to prove it’s playoff-worthy. Thank goodness for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“This is a six-game run,” slotback Jeremaine Copeland said. “Being on championship teams, and I have played with the best. It’s a matter of who we want to be — a regular playoff team or one that has home-field advantage?”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


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