MONTREAL -- Simply masterful.
Not only did the Argos virtually wrap up first place in the East Division with their emphatic 49-23 victory over the Montreal Alouettes yesterday at Olympic Stadium, but quarterback Damon Allen had a virtuoso performance.
In front of a crowd of 51,279 and hundreds of thousands watching on TV, Allen had a game that will go a long way to garnering him his first most outstanding player award of his Canadian Football League career.
The 21-season veteran authored five touchdowns -- four with his arm and one with his feet -- in leading Toronto to within one victory of clinching first in the East Division. The Argos improved to 10-6 and need only to win one of their two remaining games to clinch first.
They play Thursday at home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats followed by a road game in Ottawa nine days after that.
Allen completed 32 of 40 passes for 414 yards and could have had even more success, but he was rested with 5:42 to go.
Afterward, Argos head coach Pinball Clemons provided his support for Allen in the most outstanding player award voted on by the Football Reporters of Canada.
"My comment is MVP finally, so you can't edit it," he said.
"It was a complete performance, so much control, too. It's not just that he was productive, (but) he was under control the whole time, and he did all the things he does."
Allen took the compliment in stride.
"If this was a game that solidifies (the voting), I'm quite thankful," Allen said. "But my goals from Day 1 (this year) is to play all 18 games, give our team a chance to host an Eastern final and to win the Grey Cup. Anything else is gravy."
While Allen led the offence, the defence shut down the Als for all but two plays which Montreal converted into touchdowns. The defence picked off Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo three times and backup Ted White once. On the Als' opening offensive series, the Argos registered a safety.
Overall, it was a dominating effort by the Grey Cup champions, who led 12-0 with a safety, field goal and touchdown less than 11 minutes into the game. Even when Montreal scored a touchdown on a 73-yard pass play from Calvillo to Ben Cahoon at 11:08, the Argos engineered an 85-yard drive to score a touchdown near the end of the quarter.
"That was one of the most complete games I've seen us play in the four years I've been here," linebacker Michael Fletcher, who recorded two sacks, a forced fumble and three defensive tackles, said.
"That was our best game of the year by far as a team."
Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo lamented his team's loss.
"I'm embarrassed the way we played -- I'm embarrassed the way I played -- because we're a better team than this."