Just like old times for Allen, Argos

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Damon Allen has been around long enough to know that Grey Cups are not won in August.

So, in the wake of the Argos' much-needed 20-2 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last night before 29,010 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the 43-year-old quarterback kept his status in perspective.

"It's not bothering me as much," Allen said, referring to the middle finger on his throwing hand that he broke in the season opener and kept him out of an ugly 31-7 loss against the Montreal Alouettes last week.

"I think I turned the corner a little bit, but I'm still somewhat in the situation where I need surgery -- possibly after the season or the next time I hurt it. I'm going to see how sore it is after this game. If it's extremely sore, I think I'm going to have to eventually do it. Otherwise, I'll be playing, missing, playing, missing."

Allen is probably just being cautious. Considering how he and his injury-riddled 3-5 team played last night, there isn't much of a need to worry. If Allen can live with the pain, he certainly can run the Argos offence.

Allen, who wasn't good in his first game after breaking the finger, a 28-8 loss two weeks ago to the B.C. Lions, returned to his 2005 CFL most-outstanding-player form last night, throwing for 319 yards. The big strike was a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tony Miles on the Argos' first drive of the third quarter, putting them up 17-1 and in control for the rest of the game.

"I think he wasn't really sure about his injury (two weeks ago)," said Argos receiver Arland Bruce III, who had a spectacular game, hauling in seven passes for a career-best 171 yards. "I think now he feels comfortable in practice (after) kind of resting it more and just coming out and trusting in the guys around (him)."

It was a key win for the Argos, who went ahead of the Ticats 2-0 in the four-game season series and stayed in front of Hamilton (2-7) for third place in the CFL East.

"This is a huge first step, but it is a small step in terms of where we need to go," coach Pinball Clemons said.

The Argos, who didn't cross midfield on offence last week in Montreal, performed much better under the controls of new offensive boss Adam Rita. Offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin was fired after the Montreal debacle.

"You can't fault Kent," Allen said. "Maybe the plays we run are still the same plays we had in the offence already. But it's just the mindset, how we call things, what we try to accomplish. It's just a different thought process."

The Argos wanted to keep running back John Avery, making his 2006 debut, as involved as possible last night and succeeded. Avery ran for 74 yards on 13 carries and caught two passes for 31 more.

Bruce was all over the highlight reel, making several outstanding grabs to spark a 10-point second quarter.

"He's a jaw dropper," Clemons said. "He's just such an exciting player and he plays so phenomenally hard."

The Argos first TD was scored by newly signed QB Michael Bishop, who snuck in from a yard out. Bishop, who played the past four seasons for the Argos before signing with Chicago of the Arena League, replaced Allen in short yardage situations.


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