Say bye to Argos' bye

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

The script had to sound good to the Argos, one written to end in a box office hit for the CFL East final.

Unfortunately, the casting was all wrong and yesterday's final game of the regular season turned into a horror show.

Yes, the showdown for first in the division was ultimately settled by a former Miami Dolphins running back.

It wasn't the Argos' Ricky Williams, however, but the much less-heralded Robert Edwards who led the Alouettes to an upset 24-20 win at the Rogers Centre.

A punishing fourth quarter by the Alouette power back ruined the day for a season-high Toronto crowd of 38,123. Now, instead of a week off before playing host to the East final, the Argos have to get by the improving Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a semi-final next Sunday.

Where that game is played depended on the result of the Blue Bombers-B.C. Lions contest last night. A Lions win and the game will be at the Rogers Centre; a Bombers win and the Argos will be off to the Manitoba capital.

"When you have a team down, you have to be able to finish them off," Argos quarterback Damon Allen said, referring to the fourth-quarter collapse in which the Argos were outscored 13-0.

"We put ourselves in this position. This is something I'll think about all night."

The Argos defence will have nightmares about the late hurt Edwards put on them. He was the clear backup to Williams when the two were NFL teammates in Miami in 2002, but took centre stage yesterday.

Primarily running between the tackles, Edwards finished with a game-high 93 yards. The most impressive of those came in the fourth quarter, ending in the game-winning score, an eight-yard touchdown run with 4:23 left.

"I'm the type of guy who can pound a defence until they get tired," Edwards said. "And when they get tired, I get better."

A crushed Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons called Edwards "a difference-maker," which is exactly what the team hoped they would get in Williams when they signed him for a year on loan from the Dolphins.

Ironically, Williams had his busiest and most effective game in months, rushing for 70 yards on 13 carries, his biggest workload since the third game of the season.

"It's tough -- we just went from an easy week to a very difficult week," Williams said. "We could have been relaxing, now we have to get back to work. I guess it's what we needed because we're not good enough yet."

The Argos were inches away from putting the game away late in the first half when receiver Arland Bruce III had a brilliant 60-yard touchdown reception overturned.

Montreal coach Jim Popp challenged the call on the field and though it was debatable whether replays showed conclusively if Bruce had stepped out of bounds, the play was overturned. Instead of a 20-8 lead at the break, the Argos had to settle for a field goal and eight-point margin.

"That was six points," said Bruce, who had a five-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. "But I'm not the referee. Instant replay came in and a lot of people complained.

"This hurts because Montreal was struggling. For them to host (the East Final) is frustrating."

With back-to-back losses, the Argos are now the ones heading the wrong way and on the tough road to the Grey Cup.

"I don't think the better team won," Argos linebacker Michael Fletcher said. "They won the fourth quarter and hats off to them. We have to take the back door."


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