That was a wild ride

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

It floated through the top of the Rogers Centre and out toward Lake Ontario last night, the smoke from the fireworks mixed with a giddy, ridiculous sense of good fortune.

The Argos beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 27-26 in one of those typical CFL games that leave you with a dozen moments to pinpoint where the whole thing changed direction.

As is always the case in a wild game, the script was written as much by the Riders as the Argos. Saskatchewan came into town with a 2-0 record.

The Riders were leading 26-14 and shredding the Argonauts when Chris Szarka fumbled on the Argonauts' 14-yard line late in the game.

Had Paul McCallum not missed two field goals, had Reggie Hunt not dropped a gift interception that would have killed the Argonauts' comeback, Toronto could be heading off on a two-week road-swing to Vancouver and Montreal that could have seen them limping home at 1-4.

Then Allen, at 41, would have been too old, Robert Baker's attack on Noel Prefontaine would have been the defining moment of the season and the gold dust that has stuck to the club would have been replaced by a sense of decay.

Instead, the air is sweet in Argoland.

"We just came together more at the end," the sensational Arland Bruce said. "We just had to figure a way to get it done and we did."

The club's decision to stick with Allen again was vindicated thanks to sparkling 95- and 80-yard drives. Allen was 7-for-12 with a piddly 42 yards and an interception in the first half. He threw for 170 yards in the second half and tossed touchdown passes to Bruce with 2:45 left and Michael Palmer with 23 seconds to go.

"You realize you didn't play to your full potential and we still managed to steal the game," Allen said, speaking of himself and the team. "Those are the good things you learn when you win games like this."

Said Bruce: "We just stuck together as a family.

"We're well known for being a family. We just stuck together and came out with a victory. That's what you do when you're at home. You defend the dome. You defend your turf."

Lost in the fireworks was a horrific night for Argos running back John Avery, who had two fumbles and a drive-killing drop. The second fumble particularly was grievous since it was run in by Riders defensive lineman Nate Davis for a Saskatchewan major and a 26-14 lead for the Green Guys. You figure that would be enough, and maybe it would be in the stodgy NFL. In the great northern game, a 12-point lead is just a bit of a head start.

Avery makes $250,000 a year and spoke hopefully about a 2,000-yard season. His ineffectiveness last season could be written off as the lingering effects of a knee injury. This season's struggles are harder to justify.

The Argos were outscored 15-13 in the first half and, were it not for the usual terrific play from kick returners Bruce (a 56-yard-return) and Bashir Levingston, who ripped off a 57-yarder, the game would have been over by halftime.

The lowlight came late in the second quarter when Roughies kicker Paul McCallum was lining up for a 47-yard-field goal that he had as much chance of making as he had of being elected mayor of Regina.

But the Argos had too many men on the field. Desperate, someone signalled a timeout, which was a fine idea but for the fact that they didn't have one. The 15-yard penalty re-ignited a drive that ended with Travis Moore in the Argonauts end zone.

Only details.

It's like the old adage about golf. No one cares about how, just how many.


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