Where the Argos come up short

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

One play shouldn't decide a game, but one play clearly had a direct impact on the Argos' recent loss.

The Argos dropped a 24-13 decision to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Taylor Field on Friday and there was a play in the second quarter that clearly factored in the outcome. Actually, it was a play within a curious series.

The Argos had been leading 10-0 at the time, dominating the game in every aspect, and had a chance to go up 17-0 by scoring a touchdown from Saskatchewan's one-yard line. Quarterback Damon Allen tried one unsuccessful sneak, then tried it again, only to be stopped after losing his footing. With tailback John Avery desperately calling for the ball, the Argos called instead on Allen one more time. The ball was supposed to be snapped on the call of two, but was fired back into his hands on one. He bobbled the ball and Saskatchewan recovered.

"That was huge against a good team, especially a stingy defence," Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett said. "Seventeen points would have been difficult to overcome. That was the turning point from a momentum standpoint."

The Roughriders didn't score off the turnover, but they did on their next series with a touchdown and a two-point convert. And when the Argos committed three costly penalties late in the quarter, including one for being offside on a play in which they recorded an interception for a touchdown, Saskatchewan continued to take control. The Roughriders scored a field goal with 17 seconds to go and took an 11-10 lead into the half.

The Argos never played with the same efficiency the rest of the game, having to fight to regain the lead. The Roughriders added a field goal early in the third, and although the Argos scored a field goal to narrow the gap to 14-13, they blew a chance to take control early in the fourth quarter when Allen served up an interception. Saskatchewan would go on to score a field goal off the turnover and added a touchdown later in the quarter on a series after a second interception.

When asked about his fumble, Allen said: "It's amazing what those situations can do. It changed the whole complexion of the game."

WHERE'S MILLINGTON

"Those are the kinds of things you're going to have to execute if you want to be champions again," head coach Pinball Clemons said.

Armchair quarterbacks probably wanted to know why the Argos didn't give the ball to fullback Sean Millington on any of the three plays. Millington carved a reputation in his 12-year career as a player who proved his value punching in the ball close to the goal line. Since he ended a retirement of more than two years to join the Argos in August, Millington has been used sparingly in short-yardage situations.

In the fourth quarter, on a second-and-two situation from Saskatchewan's 48-yard line and with Millington in the backfield, the Argos handed the ball off to the big fullback, and he ran for three yards. It was his only carry of the game.

Whether or not Millington should be used more often in these situations is open to discussion.

What's equally relevant is how often do the Argos want to put Allen into a position where he can be subjected to further physical punishment. He has been taking a beating in recent games, although he insists that's just part of the game. However, notwithstanding his rugged warrior mentality, the Argos have to be wary about going to Allen too often, particularly when it's not always necessary.

In addition to Millington, the Argos could put backup quarterback Michael Bishop in for short-yardage situations, similar to what some teams are doing with their backups to protect their starters.

Clearly with six games to go in the regular season, the Argos have to become more efficient in their short-yardage situations, no matter who is carrying the ball.


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