Picture imperfect

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

At first, fans across the country were upset that the CBC lockout left them with no play-by-play for last night's Eskimos-Argos game.

By halftime they were upset that CBC couldn't find a way to get rid of the picture, too.

And you should have seen Commonwealth Stadium. In a performance that stunk to high heaven, the Eskimos had 38,927 fans holding their noses with one hand and covering their eyes with the other.

What was that slogan? Offend the Turf? The 22-18 loss was as offensive as it gets - thanks to an Eskimos offence that couldn't get out of its own way if you pushed it.

"We made some bad mistakes, we're playing some sloppy football right now," said Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray, who completed 40 of 56 passes for 414 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

"You lose the turnover battle and you have some costly penalties against a good team like Toronto, it hurts. We need to clean that up."

The defence did all they could to keep it close, limiting Toronto to nine first downs all game, but Damon Allen scorched them for a 90-yard pass and run in the second quarter and an 89-yarder in the third to jump ahead for good. He completed just 11 passes, but for 329 yards.

"Two plays,'' muttered Edmonton cornerback Malcolm Frank. "But that's all you need when your offence is not really producing. We gave up a couple of big plays on defence and offensively we weren't able to do anything. You can't win big games against good teams when you have four turnovers.''

Despite sensational field position for the entire first half - the Eskimos started drives from the Toronto 52, 53 and 33 - they couldn't get a sniff. The Argos dropped almost everyone back to cover the pass, and Edmonton tried to pass anyway. The results were predictable. When they did make it to the red zone, fumbles, picks and penalties took them right out of it.

"I thought we did a good job moving the ball,'' said Ray. "We were able to put some good drives together in the second half, but once we got down into plus territory ... we're making some stupid mistakes right now that are costing us.

Not that the Argos were any more effective. Despite just four first downs in the first half, they took a 7-1 lead into the dressing room on Robert Baker's 90-yard score at 2:36 of the second quarter.

Sean Fleming missed from 40 yards on the last play of the first half for Edmonton's only point, and the Esks were booed off the field.

Toronto broke it open late in the third quarter on another Allen bomb, this one 89 yards to Arland Bruce to make it 14-4 Toronto.

"Big plays,'' said Sanchez. "I don't think they put together too many big drives, we just had some miscommunication and they scored. We had some busts that were unacceptable.''

Tony Tompkins fumbled the ensuing kickoff and three plays later it was 21-4.

Edmonton made it 21-17 on a Ray plunge with 10 minutes left and Trevor Gaylor's 18-yard TD catch with two minutes left, but it was too little, too late. Tompkins put the game out of reach when he took a knee on a Toronto punt in the final minute, putting the Eskimos down by four.

LATE HITS: Former Eagles QB Randall Cunningham took in the game from the sidelines as a guest of good friend Henry Gizmo Williams.


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