Boatmen on the clock

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

No matter how long the Argos' post-season run lasts, Sunday's showdown against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers represents the final home game for Ricky Williams.

It may also mark the final time fans of the Double Blue have to watch the likes of Damon Allen and John Avery.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the team's beleaguered offence, a sense of finality can be felt around the Argos, who have yet to find any consistency or manufacture a break-out game on that side of the football.

In three regular-season meetings with the Bombers, the Argos managed 15 points in dropping two games.

The Argos' lone win wasn't produced until the game's final two minutes when Allen, who broke a finger on the third play in the season opener, hooked up with Arland Bruce III.

The backfield of Allen, Avery and Williams has to move the football and produce points against a Bombers defence that ranks among the league's best.

Not to be understated is the play of the offensive line, which has had a difficult time matching up against Winnipeg's front seven.

As the build up to Sunday's kickoff at Rogers Centre continues, the biggest question mark with the Argos is their offence, a season-long work in progress that was forced into the bold move of replacing co-ordinator Kent Austin with GM Adam Rita after Week 7.

The unit will be bolstered with the return of wideout Tony Miles, but the only consistent go-to weapon has been Bruce, a former Bomber receiver who played in Winnipeg's 2001 Grey Cup loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

Head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons, as always, tried to put a positive spin on the team's offence, which at times this season has looked positively brutal.

"When you look at our offence, it's one that has had significant interruptions during the course of the year,'' he said. "What we're asking them to do is play well enough for us to win. We're not asking them to be the best offence in CFL history or the best offence this year."

The Argos have the defence and the special teams to go deep into the playoffs, but will be in deep trouble if their offence falters against an aggressive and athletic Bombers team.

In last week's season finale against Montreal, played under a playoff backdrop given what was at stake, the Argos established the running game early.

Sustaining it proved difficult in the second half as the Als controlled clock at a time when the Argos offence was forced into back-to-back two and outs.

Avery, whose troublesome foot is improving daily, and Williams essentially form the Argos' basic set on offence.

"We're not going to surprise anyone or give anything away by saying that," Clemons said, referring to the team's run-first mentality. "It would have been great had we made one or two more plays (against the Als), but offensively we played well enough to win."

Clemons' assertion can be debated, but there's no doubt the Argos offence has to raise its level this Sunday.

If not, it's lights out for the team and its much-hyped and publicized runner in Williams, who's on loan from the NFL's Miami Dolphins, and likely his fellow backfield partners in Allen and Avery, two ageing veterans who have become injury-prone and too often ineffective when healthy.


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