Opening night blues

Argos QB Michael Bishop took over for starter Damon Allen in the fourth quarter and almost rallied...

Argos QB Michael Bishop took over for starter Damon Allen in the fourth quarter and almost rallied the Boatmen to a win. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Michael Bishop is nothing if not bold.

Argos fans saw it in his latest close-but-no-cigar comeback attempt last night at Rogers Centre, a fourth-quarter rally that fell a holding call short of success.

Then, in the locker room following an often ugly 24-22 loss to the Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions, he made a brazen pitch to get the start next week in Hamilton.

"If I get to play the whole game, I'm going to do some good things and try to get us to 1-1," said Bishop, inches away from where Allen was making his own plea.

"I feel I deserve a lot. I know what I can do. If that opportunity comes next week, I'm going to jump on it."

Though Bishop couldn't pull out the victory as he did against Winnipeg in the Eastern semi-final last November, he sure made it interesting for the crowd of 29,157 at the CFL curtain-raiser.

Inserted in the fourth quarter with the Argos trailing 24-15, Bishop marched the offence downfield on his second possession, completing it with an eight-yard touchdown toss to Michael Palmer.

Bishop was almost the ultimate hero with 2:20 remaining when he heaved the ball 60-plus yards off his back foot allowing Andre Talbot to make a circus catch and roll into the end zone for the would-be go-ahead score.

But when running back Jamel White, who wrestled the starting job from John Avery, was fingered for holding, the rally sputtered, then died.

The problem with not naming a definitive starter heading into the opener is that Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons is in charge of an 0-1 team and no closer to doing so.

"It means something," Clemons said of Bishop's performance, the closest he would get at hinting of change.

An at-times bizarre game that was dominated by special teams and defence -- what's not to like about the relaxed blocking rules on kick returns, though? -- saw both teams struggle on offence.

The thrill of Bashir Levingston's CFL record 129-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal was a highlight.

But if Noel Prefontaine hadn't gone out with a leg injury after a blocked punt and a Lions touchdown, he may have been able to try a 50-yard field goal late in the game.

The Lions had their own struggles, going a quarter and a half before getting their initial first down.

Allen did complete 14 of 18 attempts for 130 yards and a touchdown, but the way the offence was moving, it didn't add up to much.

Bishop completed seven of 13 for 75 yards in his lone quarter but brought tempo and the thrills attached to his rocket arm.

Complicating the evaluation was protection problems Allen faced in the first half when he was sacked five times, four resulting in significant losses.

Still, despite getting the start for Game 1 in this his 23rd CFL season, Allen almost sounded resigned to his future.

"No question in my mind do I want to play," Allen said.

"I don't know what the procedure is. I'll leave the decision up to (the coaches).

"If they want to put another quarterback in, they can do so. All I can do is be disappointed."


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