Change is for the better

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

HAMILTON -- There was a time in what must seem a football lifetime ago that Michael Bishop was ahead of Tom Brady on the New England Patriots depth chart.

There is no comparing Bishop's current job status to the most efficient quarterback in the NFL, of course. But last night at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the 31-year-old took confident strides toward solidifying his future as a CFL starter.

Bishop equalled a career-high three touchdown passes to lead the Argos to a blowout 30-5 victory over the woeful Hamilton Tiger-Cats in front of 28,198 sullen Steeltowners. Toronto now has a record of 1-1.

It went from anxious to efficient and ultimately to comfortable in a promising effort for the strong-armed quarterback.

"He was more anxious to be a starter because there has been so much talk whether he's going to be the next guy for the Argos," said receiver Arland Bruce III, who caught one touchdown pass. "But he settled down and when we had a lead, we had to keep reminding him that he didn't have to come in and be the hero this time."

It didn't hurt that Bishop had a chance to get his feet wet against the hated, but tame pussycats down the QEW, who have lost seven in a row to the Argos. While it wasn't always a dazzling debut, by the time he was given a rest midway through the final quarter, Bishop had completed 17 of 31 attempts for 247 yards.

"I just wanted to get out and get that first touchdown out of the way and let everything take care of itself," said Bishop, whose 73-yard toss to Tony Miles in the second half was the longest regular-season score of his career.

Considering Hamilton didn't move the ball deeper than the Argos 53-yard line until midway through the third, there was no need for Bishop to panic, even if he had been nervous.

Instead, he had the luxury of learning on the job he won from 43-year-old Damon Allen after Week 1 and surely will keep for the forseeable future.

He learned how to deal with the Ticats rush, which was particularly fearsome for a while in the first half. He learned that his mobility is an effective tool to allow his talented receivers to buy time and get open. And after settling into a rhythm, Bishop played with greater authority as the game progressed, before giving way to Mike McMahon late in the fourth quarter.

"For his first (game) as a starter, I thought he played solid," said Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons, who has grown weary of the team's quarterback controversy in recent weeks. "He stayed away from mistakes, which is huge."

The success was a long time coming for Bishop. Last night's effort was his first win as a game starter since Oct. 11, 2004.

Bishop's first touchdown strike was a 20-yarder to a wide-open Bruce for an 8-2 lead. The second was set up by a 60-yard pass interference call and ended with a seven-yard pass to Andre Talbot.

It didn't hurt Bishop that the Argos defence was the dominant unit it has been in recent years.

"A new starter coming in, I'm sure he wanted to get comfortable," Argos nose tackle Adriano Belli said. "I think we helped him."


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