Bishop, Argos bomb out

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

The Grey Cup is scheduled to arrive at Nathan Phillips Square at noon today, kicking off a week-long festival the city may now have trouble caring about.

Unfortunately for the party planners, the Argos checked 'No' on the RSVP with an ugly 19-9 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in yesterday's East final.

And the highest-profile party-pooper, in front of an embarrassingly small crowd of 33,467 at the Rogers Centre, was quarterback Michael Bishop.

Unable to make a throw when it mattered -- or back-to-back completions for most of the game -- Bishop crashed hard in his CFL playoff debut as a starter.

"If we're talking about our quarterback of the future, if he's going to be that kind of guy, this is the kind of game he has to win," Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said. "He's got to get better at running the offence."

Bishop, who was 11-1 as as a starter prior to yesterday's calamity, completed 21 of 45 attempts for a career-high 376 yards, many when the game was decided.

"I don't feel like I struggled," said Bishop. "(The Bombers defence) did some good things to take away my main read. But we didn't win the game, that's the bottom line."

In fairness, the loss wasn't entirely Bishop's fault. The Argos spread around their destructive ways.

On special teams, a pair of missed field goals by Noel Prefontaine and an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by ex-Argo Keith Stokes accounted for the margin of victory.

On defence, the normally dominant unit struggled to keep quarterback Kevin Glenn and running back Charles Roberts in check early on.

In fact, with 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the Bombers already had surpassed Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben's "they won't score 10" prediction.

With the Argos' stark inability to move the ball, a 12-1 halftime lead by Winnipeg turned out to be plenty.

"It's a shame," Argos defensive tackle Adriano Belli said. "The Grey Cup is here. We didn't expect this."

Though the defence dug in for the second half and started forcing turnovers, the damage already had been done.

Glenn, the East's nominee for most outstanding player, completed 15 of 21 passes for 201 yards before suffering a broken left arm on a hit by Eiben, who was pouncing for a loose ball.

Add the churning effort of Roberts, who ran for 97 hard-fought yards, and the Bombers were in business.

As if it isn't bad enough that the Argos will be absent, Eiben's hit on Glenn may have taken more steam out of the big game with backup Ryan Dinwiddie now asked to make his first start of the season in the Grey Cup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Bombers bravely rallied around their second-stringer, who completed all four of his attempts for 80 yards.

"He wasn't scared, he wasn't nervous," Winnipeg receiver Milt Stegall said. "That's how you want your quarterback to be -- a little cocky, a little confident."

Bishop never has lacked for those qualities, but a little accuracy escaped him.

Early on, he had receiver Arland Bruce open on deep patterns and couldn't get him the ball and in the third quarter badly overthrew a wide open Derrell (Mookie) Mitchell, which would have ended in an easy 29-yard TD strike.

"We were hit and miss," said Bruce. "It's definitely tough when you are hosting a championship and you are a championship (type) team. We let the city down."

And for their troubled ways, Grey Cup week begins with a wake rather than a party.


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