Bishop bombs away Blue

Toronto Argo's R. Jay Soward (18) is congratulated by teammate Michael Palmer after scoring the...

Toronto Argo's R. Jay Soward (18) is congratulated by teammate Michael Palmer after scoring the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Damon Allen could have gone to the bench and sulked at being denied the chance to salvage a sinking season.

But the Argos quarterback has walked in similar-sized shoes himself and took the high road to victory.

So when understudy Michael Bishop was called upon in the fourth quarter of yesterday's thrilling East Division semi-final, Allen did what he couldn't earlier in the game.

He advised Bishop where the Blue Bombers might be vulnerable then told him to go in and win the game.

Three passes, 110 yards and two touchdowns later and the Argos were ahead 31-27 and on their way to Montreal for the division final.

For the fifth consecutive year it will be the Argos and Alouettes duking it out for a Grey Cup berth when they meet Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

But yesterday's dramatic ending had Allen thinking of a CFL championship almost two decades ago.

"It was no different than me coming in the Grey Cup in '87 for Matt Dunigan," said Allen, who rallied the Eskimos in relief that year and was named offensive player of the game.

"It wasn't like I was playing bad, we just needed a spark. At that time, you just become a cheerleader and do everything you can to help."

It took all of three plays for Bishop to save the season, lighting up the Bombers defence and a quiet Rogers Centre crowd of 26,214.

The first was a 77-yard touchdown pass-and-run to Bruce, a play the two had nailed in practice earlier in the week.

The second was a 19-yarder to Ricky Williams followed by a 15-yard TD strike to R. Jay Soward. With a Bombers two-and-out in between, it took all of a minute and 45 seconds of game clock to get the job done.

"When I got to the huddle, the guys said they had faith in me," said Bishop, who was once ahead of Tom Brady on the New England Patriots depth chart. "R. Jay and Bruce made the catches we needed. That's part of football, you never know when it's going to happen."

Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons was the first to rightfully douse any talk of quarterback controversy.

"Yeah, that would be crazy," Clemons said when asked whether Bishop would get the start next week.

"Damon has been leading us all year and he'll keep on leading us," added Bishop, who rejoined the Argos in August after a year with the Arena League's Chicago Rush. "I just have to be ready when they need me."

Rather than a controversy, the Argos may have found a weapon other CFL teams haven't been shy to use. If putting Bishop in for a series or two can shake things up, why not?

"Sometimes you need a spark to ignite you," Argos linebacker Michael Fletcher said. "Damon was a real pro. That's the way it is with this team. We're in it together."

After trailing 14-6 at halftime, the Bombers seized control with a pair of Charles Roberts touchdowns in the third quarter. But Roberts, who pounded out 179 yards on 30 carries, will be remembered for one of those final rushes, an 18-yard run that ended in Argo Chuck Winters stripping the ball.

Two plays later, Soward was in the end zone and an Argos hero was born.

"Some guys have to wait three or four years before they get the opportunity," Bishop said. "I went out and did my job. I feel good about it and the team feels good about it."


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