Argos meet familiar end

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Most of his Argos teammates had left the Olympic Stadium dressing room when veteran linebacker Mike O'Shea finally emerged.

For more than an hour after the Argos' 33-24 East Division final loss to the Montreal Alouettes, he had been holed away in a coach's office, still wearing his blood-soaked equipment.

"I don't have time to talk," a deflated O'Shea said when he finally came out for air.

Really, what could he say?

The pain of a crushing defeat, a second consecutive division final loss to the Als, had manifested itself in several ways.

Backup Michael Bishop, who once again came on to replace aging Damon Allen, made a plea for the starter's job with his actions on the field in the second half and his words off of it.

The Argos are now left to wonder what might have happened had he gotten the call at the start of the second half, rather than three series in.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Als defender Mark Estelle picked off Allen and returned it 78 yards for a TD and a 23-3 Montreal lead.

Tempers flared on and off the field. After the game, receiver Arland Bruce launched into a tirade at the officials, accusing them of being "racial."

There were some controversial calls to be sure, including a third-quarter Ricky Williams fumble that was ruled a dead ball on the field but overturned by video review.

Moments earlier, O'Shea and Bruce had been involved in an animated shouting and shoving match on the field after Estelle's TD return.

"Family stuff," Bruce said, though it seemed far more serious than that.

The gallant second-half rally under Bishop aside, the Argos were outplayed by a determined Alouettes team that returns to Sunday's Grey Cup game, hoping to avenge last year's loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.

"The last two times we lost and it wasn't a good feeling," said Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who will lead his team into Winnipeg to face the B.C. Lions. "We've been there so many dang times it shouldn't bother us. We're excited, but man, I'm tired of losing them."

Calvillo, who completed 14 of 22 attempts for 252 yards, made just enough plays to ensure running back Robert Edwards could pound away at the Argos defence. Edwards finished with 137 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

After trading first-quarter field goals, the Als seized control with 13 points on their three final possessions before the half to take a 16-3 lead.

When Estelle romped to the end zone just 43 seconds into the third, Toronto looked done. Argos coach Mike Clemons gave Allen one more series but when that went two and out, Bishop got the call.

THREE TDS

The career backup then engineered three touchdown drives, including passes to Michael Palmer and Bruce and a two-yard Williams touchdown run in his final game as an Argo.

Williams, however, may best be remembered for that midfield fumble after the Argos had regained some momentum. On the next play, Calvillo went deep to Thyron Anderson for a 52-yard TD to give the Als a 30-10 lead.

Bishop still had some magic in him, but that potential 14-point swing with just 16 minutes left, was the killer.

"I have total confidence in what I can do," said Bishop, who is under contract to return to the Arena League.

"I can't make the call. They have to make the call. The way I performed, I gave them something to think about."


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