Allen receives a birthday bashing

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Damon Allen's 43rd birthday party was about as exciting as the Maple Leafs' 2006 playoff run.

In both cases, the celebration never got going.

Returning to the starting lineup last night after breaking the middle finger on his throwing hand June 17, the Argos quarterback experienced a true birthday bust, throwing three interceptions in a revolting 28-8 loss against the B.C. Lions before 28,356 fans at the Rogers Centre.

"I put so much pressure on myself to go out there and make good decisions, throw the football and control the offence," Allen said after his injury-riddled team fell to 2-4.

"I shoulder a lot of the responsibility especially in this game, despite not playing three or four games. I understood what they were doing. I just got a little impatient on some of the throws."

To his credit, Allen didn't use his recovering finger as an excuse, despite the fact he said it affected a few of his throws and was sore after the game.

After the Argos hid the identity of their starting quarterback all week, Allen was introduced as a member of the starting lineup last night and received a huge cheer from the crowd. But the paying customers soured on Allen in a hurry as he was booed several times, especially after his final two interceptions, both of which went right into the hands of linebacker Javier Glatt.

"On the two interceptions I threw to the linebacker, he didn't really have to make a play," Allen said.

Unlike the Argos' first three losses, all of which were seven-point defeats, this one was not close. The Argos' only touchdown came in the final minute when running back Jeff Johnson, replacing the injured Ricky Williams, recovered his own fumble in the end zone for a meaningless score. Allen (16-for-33 for 256 yards, zero TDs and three interceptions) wasn't the only culprit, but he was the big story.

"One of the challenges from our vantage point is you kind of assume when Damon comes back, that it all works together," coach Pinball Clemons said. "(Defensive co-ordinator Rich) Stubler and I were speaking about that about a week ago that when Damon comes back, it's not going to be a bed of roses here. He's going to have to get his rhythm and stride back. Once we get him back and he goes through the game, we go in optimistic and think he is going to conquer the world."

Obviously, that didn't happen last night. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson was efficient, throwing for 239 yards and one touchdown to Ryan Thelwell, while rookie running back Joe Smith did the rest, scoring three touchdowns to match his total from last week.

The Argos, meanwhile, are in trouble. They have a short week, culminating with a road game against the CFL's only unbeaten team, the Montreal Alouettes, Thursday. Four of Toronto's next five games are on the road.

"The fact is, as a team we're not a very good football team right now," Clemons said.

"The nice thing is there is hope. We're not a team that can't put it together."


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