'A work in progress'

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Reality sank its teeth into the Argonauts yesterday, but head coach Rich Stubler didn't flinch.

"We don't need to be ahead of Montreal when we finish (the regular season)," Stubler said. "We need to be better than two football teams and we are a work in progress. In two months we have to be ready to play these guys again."

Back to the present, and it was ugly under overcast skies yesterday at Molson Stadium, where an 83rd consecutive sellout crowd of 20,202 watched the Alouettes hammer the Argos 45-19.

The Argos had no lift from an emotional win in Hamilton in the Labour Day Classic, going down feebly to a Montreal team that should keep its grasp on first place in the East Division in the final eight weeks of the regular season.

The 4-6 Argos, if they can manage to stay ahead of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, both of whom are 2-8, would earn the right to play host to a playoff semi-final early in November by finishing second.

"I won a Grey Cup having a losing record," Stubler said. "It all comes down to the playoffs."

Fine, then. But wouldn't it be nice if the Argos were able to start showing some sort of growth, whether they are in transition? If they meet the Alouettes in the playoffs, it won't amount to a hill of beans if they are embarrassed again.

The Argos were poor on both sides of the ball yesterday. The absence of linebacker Willie Pile was clear to anyone who had not consumed a few beers by halftime, as Toronto could do little to stop Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo from controlling the game.

The fact that star running back Avon Cobourne did not dress for Montreal because of an ankle injury became a footnote.

Calvillo passed for three touchdowns and ran in for another as the Als amassed 494 total yards on offence.

Pile, who has a sprained ankle, is expected back on Friday when the Blue Bombers visit the Rogers Centre. Chuck Winters had a rough game in his spot, and the Als also picked on cornerback Willie Middlebrooks, who was seeing the ball come in his direction all afternoon.

Stubler said the Argos will add some defensive bodies today when the practice rosters are extended to 12 players from seven, so more moves are coming, via NFL cuts, to a defence that began going with four and five men on the front with more regularity a week ago.

"I really missed Pile because he is a stalwart of what we are doing," Stubler said. "We have a couple of guys coming in who will help as big interior linemen. And we need to change. Everybody says we are old, but we had four rookies in the secondary for a long time today."

It also was a difficult day for quarterback Kerry Joseph, who began and ended the first half by throwing interceptions.

Joseph completed just 21 of 40 pass attempts for 259 yards and the only offensive major was a touchdown pass to Arland Bruce when the beating was well in hand.

The Als put the heat on Joseph from the first snap and sacked him twice. But Joseph, when he was driven out of the pocket, was unable to get anything done.

Stubler never thought of pulling Joseph when the result was obvious.

"He did not play great," Stubler said. "He has to get the ball out of his hands. That is part of his deal. I want him to stay in there and get comfortable. That's part of his learning curve."

Said Joseph: "We never got into a rhythm. It's disappointing. It's collective as a team, we did not play well. Bottom line."

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ARGOS REPLAY

MOVING UP

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo moved into sole possession of third place on the CFL career list for touchdown passes when he found Jamel Richardson in the second quarter. It was the 307th TD pass by Calvillo, moving him ahead of Matt Dunigan. Ron Lancaster is second with 333, while Damon Allen has thrown the most touchdown passes in CFL history with 394.

DORSEY, REDUX

Dominique Dorsey is becoming the go-to guy for the Argos' highlight reel. His 92-yard return of a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter was the sixth-longest such play in Argos history.

TOUGH CUSTOMERS

Argos tackle Jerome Davis suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the final play of the first half but returned for the second half. Defensive end Riall Johnson, meanwhile, played with a torn adductor suffered last week, but was on the bench by the fourth quarter.


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