Roughies rock Argos

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The hype and hefty contract came pre-season when the Argos signed NFL refugee running back Ricky Williams.

The feel-good story came mid-season when quarterback Damon Allen surpassed Warren Moon as pro football's most prolific passer.

But if the Boatmen are to make post-season headlines, it is becoming increasingly clear they will be scribbled by the team's veteran and venerable defence.

And if there are more games like last night's effort before 30,323 Rogers Centre, even that might not be enough.

Another frustrating session of poor productivity from the offence resulted in an upset 13-9 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

With the loss, the Argos slipped to 10-7, failed to clinch a home playoff date and could fall as low as third in the CFL East by the end of the schedule a week from tomorrow.

More likely, next Saturday's showdown here with the Montreal Alouettes will decide the division title.

The futility spoiled another strong effort by the defence and ended with the team's second loss in the past 10 games.

"Defence has been what carried this team for several years," Clemons said. "We understand as a team how we are composed.

"We have never claimed to have an offence that is going to score 40 points a game."

No worries there if last night was any kind of measuring stick.

The prospect of Williams and John Avery sharing the backfield remains very much a work in progress, and a struggling one at that.

In five games since returning from a broken arm, Williams has failed to top 50 yards three times and last night was stuffed for 25 yards on eight carries. The former NFL rushing leader still is seeking his first 100-yard game in three-down football.

Avery had an even worse night, held to 16 yards on five carries while quarterback Damon Allen added to the misery completing 17 of 35 attempts for 127 yards.

And as the final kick, Noel Prefontaine, who nursed a knee and ankle injury all week, missed two field-goal attempts. While those missed points may have been the difference on the scoreboard, the inability to get the ball in the end zone was the more blatant shortcoming.

"It can happen if you don't have a good week of practice," Allen said of the offensive struggles. "I'm disappointed about the way we played. We have to go back to the drawing board."

As it has been for much of the recent 8-2 run, the Argos defence did its job again, holding Saskatchewan to just one touchdown and 13 points.

"I think the offence is more frustrated than anybody," Argos linebacker Michael Fletcher said. "They expect a lot of themselves. Usually we win these types of games."

The defence held up its end, keeping the Roughies off the scoreboard in the second half and but for a long punt return that set up a Kerry Joseph to Andy Fantuz touchdown pass might have kept them out of the end zone as well.

"Our defence continues to play hard and keep us in football games," Clemons said. "But offensively, we've got to get better, there's no two ways about it."


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