Argos had a few tough calls

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

DECISIONS, DECISIONS.

If you look back at Friday's game between the Argos and Montreal Alouettes, Toronto made some interesting decisions, beyond starting Michael Bishop at quarterback and keeping Damon Allen on the sidelines to rest his injured right ankle.

The Argos won the coin toss and let Montreal take the first possession.

"Usually nine times of 10, if the wind is not involved, the team that wins the coin toss always defers to the second half," said cornerback Adrion Smith, one of the Argos captains.

The Als engineered a 15-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a touchdown, giving the Als the early momentum en route to the 18-10 win. So did the Argos err in not taking the ball right away on offence?

"You'd like to set the tone with the defence," Smith said. "We've been starting slow all season. What if we get the ball and go two-and-out, is that a bad decision? When the whistle blows, you've got to be ready regardless."

In the third quarter, with the Als leading 15-0, head coach Pinball Clemons opted to go for a 50-yard field attempt by Noel Prefontaine, who nailed it. Many teams have avoided field-goal attempts of this distance for fear of missing and giving up a long return, and the Als have a dangerous returner in Ezra Landry. Clemons wanted to punt initially, but Prefontaine convinced him to go for the field goal because he made a 56-yarder in an exhibition game in the same direction.

"I think it was a point in the game where we weren't getting into the end zone," Prefontaine said. "You give (the field-goal attempt) a shot and if you make it then all of a sudden you've got momentum."

The Argos scored a touchdown on their next series, so it worked. But if the Argos had the lead, Prefontaine said punting may have been the option.

In the fourth quarter, with the score 18-10 and less than three minutes to go, the Argos gambled on a third-and-six from the Als' 24-yard line and came up short. Should the Argos have gone for the field goal and hope their defence holds and gives them the ball back, which in fact happened?

"What you're assuming is if we get the field goal, we're going to get a defensive stop," offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin said. "They were moving the ball pretty quick. Do you take that chance (of going for a field goal) or do you try to tie it up (in regulation time) and try to win in overtime?"

Then there was the decision on the final play of the game when Allen needed to get into the end zone from the Als' 43-yard line, but threw underneath to Arland Bruce, who gained 19 yards. Allen had three receivers deep and, in most cases, the designed play is to go for a jump ball in the end zone. There was some communication problems, combined with Allen having a hard time seeing because of some gnats that were flying in the air and affected his vision.

"I think in retrospect Damon would just throw it into the end zone and get a jump ball,"Austin said. "I think if he had a chance to do it over again, that's what he'd do."

Of course after the game, Clemons was asked about his decision to start Bishop and rest Allen. Clemons said they wanted to give Bishop a chance to step up and get the job done, while allowing Allen some healing time. But with the Argos down by only 14 after a sluggish half, Clemons decided to go to Allen, thinking he gave the Argos the best chance to win. It almost worked.

"If the game was out of hand, I don't think we'd have gone to him," Clemons said.


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