September 30, 2012
Argos drop Blue Bombers — without Ricky Ray
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - The changing fortunes of the Argos has taken a turn for the good, even as they were just good enough to escape the ’Peg with a win.
Beyond putting aside a very inferior and self-destructive opponent, the Argos re-entered the fray when it comes to first place in the East, a position that seemed lost following last week’s loss in Montreal.
With the Als losing Friday night in The Hammer and the Argos emerging as victors on Saturday night, Toronto, now 7-6, trails first-place Montreal by one game with a crucial Oct. 14 date at the Rogers Centre now looming.
In the interim, the Argos, who wrapped up a three-game stretch away from home, play host to Saskatchewan on Thanksgiving Day on Monday.
The status of Ricky Ray will be made much clearer as the Argos have plenty of time to prepare for Rider Nation, but in his absence Jarious Jackson did what one would expect from a veteran.
In leading his team to its 29-10 win over the Bombers, Jackson did not commit a single turnover, got the ball out of his hands quickly, used his feet to move the chains and took shots down the field.
It was far from a work of art, but it worked and it’s all one could ask and expect.
On occasion, Jackson overthrew his receivers. But he was decisive, and the win, no matter how it was achieved, puts a home playoff date within reach.
When a defence scores, forces turnovers and produces an interception with the Bombers poised to score a major, Jackson didn’t need to throw in excess of 300 yards.
Heck, he didn’t even exceed 200 passing yards.
Chad Kackert ran hard and balance was established.
Kackert was forced to the sideline following a horse-collar tackle with under four minutes remaining, replaced by veteran Jeff Johnson, who fumbled the ball on his first touch, Toronto’s first turnover of the game.
When Toronto got possession following yet another Bombers turnover, it was Andre Durie lining up in the backfield.
Swayze Waters needs to be more consistent, one of the blemishes to emerge from Saturday night.
Just about anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Bombers in the opening quarter.
The beneficiaries, naturally, were the Argos, who took the opening kickoff and promptly marched down the field.
When the Argos weren’t running some creative play, they were given an extra set of downs in the wake of some questionable officiating and some bone-headed decisions by the Bombers.
The first drive, as it turned out, pretty much set the tone for the entire half, a series of miscues and big plays and a big shot that resulted in Bombers starting quarterback Buck Pierce missing a few series.
Even TSN, the official mouthpiece of the CFL, got in on the act, which was part comical, part compelling.
When the network’s coverage of the Ryder Cup interfered with its pigskin presentation, there wasn’t much in the way of a credible review of a play that eventually was overturned.
The home crowd went from delirium, an understandable reaction when a restless fan base sees a defensive touchdown, only to turn sour when the play gets called back.
Even in live action, it was obvious Jackson had his arm moving forward, but the on-field officials ruled it a fumble, which was recovered by Kenny Mainor and returned 67 yards for a major.
When the Argos finally got a chance to see the video evidence, head coach Scott Milanovich threw his challenge flag.
After consulting with the league’s honchos back in Toronto, an incompletion was called, the right call, but it required far too much time to sort everything out.
But that was the nature of the first half, which the Argos led 24-10.
A pick six by Marcus Ball, Toronto’s fourth defensive score in five games, Bombers penalties that kept drives alive, yet another challenge review that went against Winnipeg, and a 46-yard field goal into the wind by Waters to end the half, it was quite the ride for the Bombers faithful.
The Argos were guilty of some overzealous behaviour, but they didn’t commit a single turnover, ran a pretty basic offence, other than an end-around to Andre Durie off an imaginative formation, and applied pressure on Pierce.
Given all that went wrong for Winnipeg, not surprisingly the Argos had the football for close to 13 minutes in the opening 15 minutes of play, jumping out to a 21-0 lead.
The Bombers did move the ball when Pierce returned, cutting Toronto’s advantage to 21-10, only to see Jackson use his feet to set up Waters’ end of half score.
When the second half began, word began to filter that Pierce had suffered a suspected concussion and would not return.
On the opening kickoff to begin the third quarter, a Winnipeg fumble led to an Argos field goal.
When the Bombers took possession on offence, it was Joey Elliott at quarterback.
Even a healthy Pierce wouldn’t have made much a difference, not when so much damage had been caused, on a night when Toronto’s offence dominated time of possession.
After three quarters, the Argos had possession of the football for 29 minutes and led 27-10.
Late in the third, Chad Owens’ spectacular season added a new layer when he surpassed 3,000 all-purpose yards, a week after becoming the first Argos receiver in four years to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards.
For Owens, it marked the third time in as many years that he has had at least 3,000 all-purpose yards, a total that threatens to reach the magical 4,000 if he stays healthy for the balance of the season.