Argos would be wise to remember past

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Just 12 months ago, the Montreal Alouettes were sitting exactly where the Toronto Argonauts are now.

No one believed in them.

They faced the prospect of playing in front of 50,000 screaming lunatics in a facility that consistently had brought defeat.

When Pinball Clemons said the Argos were ready to win in Montreal, most wrote it off as temporary dementia. The Argonauts had lost two straight playoff games and hadn't won anything in Montreal in five years.

Flash forward to this Sunday. The Als are looking at playing in front of a crowd of 50,000 in a deafening Rogers Centre against a team that seems to have their number.

The Als were changing personnel on the defensive side of the ball days before their most recent playoff game.The Argos humiliated them 49-23 in Montreal late in the season.

No chance, eh?

They say those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. Remember the 26-18 decision struck by the Argos at Olympic Stadium last season?

For that matter, what about Montreal's 30-14 drubbing of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Eastern semi-final?

The recipe -- for at least one day -- worked. Last I looked, one day is just one more than two.

"They played really crisp, really good against Saskatchewan," Argos defensive end Eric England said. "They're functioning as a team. Their offensive line is blocking tremendously well. Their defence is playing better than I've seen in a while. We have to play our best game in order to win."

England is Exhibit A in how quickly one development can change the complexion of a game. When England smashed Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo to the turf and injured his shoulder early in the third quarter of the Eastern final last year, the Als were finished.

Now, Argos backup Michael Bishop has a far superior skill package to the Als Ted White, but you get the idea.

Indeed, the Argos are better equipped to weather misfortune at the game's most pivotal position, and not just because Bishop has more experience.

"Our defence and our special teams can keep us in the game," linebacker Michael Fletcher said. "It's a different scenario. They had to totally abandon the running game once Anthony went out."

Still, you needn't scratch too far for similarities.

"I think we're fairly similar as a football team," Allen said. "Veteran quarterbacks ... both teams believe in their quarterbacks. I certainly believe in our defence. Depth at receiver, special teams, two coaches with great minds. Both teams have a lot of pride."

But it is the crucial category of attitude that the Argos need be mindful of.

"Last year, we were the underdogs. This year, we're a little more favoured," linebacker Kevin Eiben said. "The thing is, our team still has the same mentality, that we're the underdog because you don't know what team we're going to play -- Montreal the old or the Montreal of today."

Fletcher's gut says the Montreal of old.

"You can finally see that feeling of them against the world now," Fletcher said.

"Both teams were questioned along the way and both teams have made it to this point," said Argos coach Michael Clemons when comparing this year's Als with last year's Argos. "In doing so, they had to play on the road in order to make it to the Grey Cup.

"That's where we hope the story ends."


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