That sinking feeling

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

CALGARY -- Cody Pickett won't be bugging the Argonauts video staff this week for a highlight reel of his first CFL start.

The much-ballyhooed decision by head coach Don Matthews to bench the CFL's most outstanding player in 2007, Kerry Joseph, in favour of Pickett fell flat in the foothills last night, as the Argos were throttled 34-4 by the Calgary Stampeders.

When Pickett was not being ineffective, the Argos were shooting themselves in the foot with three fumbles and an interception.

"Cody was victimized by some of his supporting cast," Matthews said. "Other times he got a little hurried, but I thought, all in all, he did a pretty fair job.

"We were giving too many chances to a good football team. Everything that could go wrong went wrong."

As such, the Argos are in clear danger of losing the second and presumably last playoff spot in the East Division.

The Boatmen and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are tied for second place in the East with records of 4-8. The Argos have a slight edge in that they lead the season series 2-1, with the final match between the two teams being Oct. 10 in Winnipeg. But with the Bombers having put together back-to-back wins, it might just be a matter of time before they move into second place.

The four points scored by the Argos were their puniest output in one game going back to 2002, when they were beaten 38-3 by the Montreal Alouettes.

Pickett, who has started in the NFL and NFL Europe, gave it the old college try before a crowd of 33,135 at McMahon Stadium. But he did not move around with much authority yesterday and knew better than to look down-field too often, as the Argos are not teeming with deep threats. On the final play of the third quarter, Pickett was intercepted by Wes Lysack, who returned the ball 57 yards for a touchdown and a 31-4 Calgary lead. In the fourth, a bad hand-off by Pickett at the Calgary six-yard line was recovered by the Stamps.

Pickett can't be faulted for everything. It's getting harder to explain how offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto keeps his job, given that the Argos scare no one when they take possession. Whether it has been Joseph, Pickett or Michael Bishop behind centre, the common denominator has been Buratto. Toronto has scored just one touchdown on offence in its past three games.

Matthews said he has not decided whether Pickett or Joseph will start Saturday at home against the Stamps.

MUST 'PLAY BETTER'

"Shoot, we have to play better," Pickett, who was sacked three times, said with a straight face. "The biggest thing is we have to take care of the ball better. We have to find a way to get in the end zone."

Receiver Arland Bruce was identified earlier this week by Matthews as his No. 2 offensive weapon after Dominique Dorsey, but Bruce had just two catches for 20 yards and often was double-teamed. Bethel Johnson had a fumble that led to a Calgary touchdown.

Calgary built a comfortable cushion in the first half as Burris made a one-yard toss to Toronto native Mike Labinjo and an 18-yarder to Nik Lewis for touchdowns.

There were a handful of Argos lineup changes that did not involve Pickett. Of those in for the first time, linebacker Claude Harriott stood out. Defensive back Pete Hunter had an interception in his first start.

"Hopefully it is the end of the bad things in this organization," Bruce said. "There is no way it can get worse than it is now. Coaching change, quarterback controversy, everything. We're 4-8, and that is unacceptable."

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ARGOS REPLAY

RECAP

The Argos lost for the fifth time in six games with an uninspiring performance in Calgary, where they have not won since 2005. The two teams meet again next week at the Rogers Centre for the second half of the home-and-home set. Of their final six games, the Argos have four against opponents from the West Division.

MORE DORSEY

Dominique Dorsey racked up a total of 342 all-purpose yards, breaking his personal best of 303 yards, set last week against Winnipeg. Dorsey has been the lone positive in a bad Argos season.

DOWN THE QEW

Running back Kenton Keith, who caught the Argos' interest a few weeks ago before the Boatmen figured his price was too high, reportedly is close to signing a deal with Hamilton. Keith could be in practising as early as Tuesday for the hapless Ticats, who are 2-10.

REMEMBERING RON

A moment of silence was held prior to the game in memory of CFL great Ron Lancaster, who died last week.


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