Heads will roll in Steeltown and those in Hogtown will now get ready for a playoff game against an opponent that won’t be decided until this weekend.
This year’s East playoffs will feature a cross over, either Saskatchewan or Edmonton providing the opposition on Nov. 11.
On Thursday night, it literally came down to the end on a field goal from 51 yards out the Argos would use to win 43-40 and eliminate the Ticats.
At 9-9, the Argos go into the post-season on a two-game win streak, with Swayze Waters no longer wondering if he could kick field goals from any distance and a well-rested Ricky Ray, who will either play his former team or a Roughriders team he picked apart last week.
Four turnovers committed by Hamilton, Argos going with their fourth-string quarterback, the evening’s theatre of the bizarre would see the home side leading 30-26 after three quarters, but the best, and some can argue worst, was yet to unfold.
Say what you want about the calibre and quality of the product, but both teams left everything out on the field, even when scheming became an issue.
Big plays, big blunders, a big kick to end the evening, there was everything and then some.
“I’m proud of the guys,’’ Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said. “We talked about it all week. When you put on that blue helmet, you play to win.
“We didn’t care who was in, who was out. There are no excuses. We expected the guys to execute and we did just enough to win.”
For reasons that defy logic, the Ticats didn’t bring the kind of pressure you’d expect given how deep the Argos went on their depth chart.
When fourth-string quarterback Zach Collaros hooked up with Sammy Tranks on a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the Argos were leading 37-26.
Collaros would then move the chains, get the Argos in field goal range and three more points were posted to give Toronto a 40-26 lead with 7:45 left in the game.
In reality, though, the game didn’t have the feel of a two-touchdown spread.
It would become a one possession game with 2:47 on the clock, Hamilton mounting a 14-play drive.
After the Argos went two and out, the Ticats had possession at Toronto’s 38-yard line with 2:15 left on the clock.
The game would then be tied 40-40 as Hamilton’s offence continued to take advantage of all the many new pieces lining up on Toronto’s defence.
But this was one game where the team with possession at the end had an edge, but it was mitigated by the simple fact Toronto was going with its fourth stringer, at least according to conventional wisdom.
But as this night proved, as this Ticat season showed, there is no logical explanation.
From an Argos perspective, about the only drama on this night involved Chad Owens and whether the Flyin’ Hawaiian would break Mike (Pinball) Clemons’ CFL record for all-purpose yards in a season.
The moment arrived on a kickoff return Owens would gain 29 yards on the play.
The plan was to stop the game, acknowledge the milestone and have Clemons pose with Owens.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a reception that was first ruled as a touchdown for Owens’ feat to be honoured.
For the record, Owens’ day ended after the first half, his season total at 3,863 yards, which toppled Clemons’ mark of 3,840 yards.
With nothing to play for and with many front-line players not in uniform, the Argos were basically playing with house money.
Under such backdrops, it’s easy to see why the Argos were more than willing to roll the dice, take shots down field, run reverses that would see Owens turn into a quarterback and play a style of football that was very entertaining.
As expected, Jarious Jackson started at quarterback for the Argos, setting the tone for what would follow by looking deep and connecting with Dontrelle Inman, who looms as a major threat once the playoffs begin.
Jackson looked very much at ease and in complete control of the offence, delivering the football when given time and using his mobility when flushed.
Gerald Riggs Jr., who has struggled when given opportunities, ran hard out of the backfield as Toronto’s offence played efficient football.
Even when rookie Trevor Harris took control early in the second quarter, the Argos didn’t skip a beat, but pass protection would become an issue.
Defensively, the Argos pretty much played like they have all season, even with so many new faces along the defensive line and at linebacker.
Plays were being made, but plays were being yielded, in particular a 93-yard touchdown reception by Chris Williams, who got behind Toronto’s coverage.
For the third straight game, Henry Burris gave up a pick six to Toronto, this time to veteran free safety Jordan Younger, who would add his second interception late in the first half.
But despite all of Hamilton’s problems, at no point were the visitors completely out of it, even when trailing 20-3 after the opening quarter.
When Waters nailed the game winner, Hamilton’s fate was sealed and now the housecleaning must begin.