Eskies still have hope

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:28 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Ricky Ray looks at the CFL standings and shakes his head.

A peek at the Edmonton Eskimos' record doesn't exactly inspire him either, considering the reigning CFL champion has yet to win back-to-back games this season.

But with just three contests remaining and a CFL West Division-worst 5-10 record, the Eskies can still sneak into the playoff with a rally and some help.

"It's very surprising," said Ray, who has thrown for 4,449 yards and is likely to be the only quarterback in the league to top 5,000 yards. "As poorly as we've played, we've still got a shot."

That shot depends in part on their own play as well as hoping the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who beat the Montreal Alouettes 27-26 last night, will drop both remaining games.

An Edmonton loss or a Saskatchewan win will eliminate the Eskimos.

Avoiding that fate also depends on their ability to put together a consistent effort rather than the sloppy play that has marked their season.

"We have to play a complete 60 minutes," Eskimos receiver Ed Hervey said yesterday. "We're not good enough to play 55 minutes and win a big football game."

RUN WITH IT

Shredding the Argos defence for 189 yards last week earned Troy Davis CFL player of the week honours. But Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia fully expects the Argos to plug that hole.

"It is safe to say we are probably going to see something different," Maciocia said yesterday. "I told them that we are not going to panic. The last I heard, you can only line up 12 men on defence. We will have to adjust."

The Argos would like to see another strong running afternoon as well. The debut of John Avery and Ricky Williams in the backfield resulted in a combined 137 yards in the 28-23 Thanksgiving Day win over the Eskimos.

"It was a lot more for for me watching Ricky and John than it was Troy," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said. "It is a system that worked and one we would like to build on."

FLIGHT FRIGHT

The Argos were almost forced to go to Edmonton without defensive back Byron Parker and linebacker Chuck Winters yesterday. An overbooked Air Canada flight forced the airline to start arbitrarily bumping passengers. But after a heated exchange with a club official, all the Boatmen were on board.


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