True to form, the Argonauts came up with a turkey on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Argos, requiring a victory to keep their tiny playoff hopes alive, knocked the stuffing out of themselves with a variety of errors in a 25-16 loss to the Blue Bombers before a crowd of 27,268 on a chilly night at CanadInns Stadium.
The Bombers, in second place in the East Division, are four points up on the Argos with three games left for each club.
So it's all but certain the Argos will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2001. They're still alive in a praying-to-God-on-their-deathbed sort of way.
To get to the post-season, Toronto would have to win its final three games against Montreal, B.C. and Saskatchewan, while the Bombers would have to lose to Calgary, Montreal and Hamilton. In other words, start making plans for 2009, Argo fans. The Argos have lost six straight and it's possible they won't win again this season.
Mike Vanderjagt shanked a field-goal attempt on the final play of the third quarter, hitting the left goal post from 24 yards. He later hit one from 39 yards, but had he connected on the seemingly easier one, the Argos might have won.
BRUCE COUGHS IT UP
With a 16-14 lead after Vanderjagt's 39-yarder, the Argos barely had taken control when Arland Bruce fumbled at the Toronto 35-yard line on a punt return. The Bombers' Jean-Luc Labbe recovered, and a few plays later, Alexis Serna booted a 34-yard field goal to regain a one-point lead for the home side. Joe Smith ran in from eight yards out for a TD in the final minute.
The Argos fumbled three times and would have won against a mediocre Bombers team with anything approaching a solid offence. But QB Kerry Joseph and his receivers again weren't good enough.
Neither team's offence demonstrated in the first half that it should be considered playoff material, but one will be in the post-season regardless. Winnipeg had a 7-3 lead when 30 minutes were gone, and though Toronto moved the ball, it failed to do what it has failed to do all season -- execute.
Much of what has gone wrong with the Argos in 2008 was epitomized early in the game.
Rookie halfback Jason Shivers recorded his first interception on the Blue Bombers' opening drive, and Toronto took over at its own 27-yard line. After Robertson gained four yards on a rush, Joseph found Stokes for a 62-yard reception.
A good team would have taken advantage and scored a TD on the board. But the Argos aren't good, and what happened next was laughable. Toronto gained six more yards on two running plays, but at third and two, the Argos burned a timeout when they became confused at the line. Vanderjagt wound up kicking a 22-yard field goal.
Joseph was 26-of-37 for 319 yards, but the numbers amount to nothing when majors aren't part of the picture.