Trick play no treat

A discouraged fan peers through a bag as the Argos fell 45-38 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in...

A discouraged fan peers through a bag as the Argos fell 45-38 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their final game of the regular season at the Rogers Centre last night. (Mark O'Neill, Sun Media)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:27 AM ET

A group of men got a 24-hour jump on Halloween at the Rogers Centre last night.

In the first half against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they looked like a real, live football team, but in the second half, the same old ugly Argonauts revealed themselves.

In a stunning end to a stupefying season, the Argos watched helplessly as the Roughriders racked up 28 points in the fourth quarter on the way to a 45-38 victory before a crowd 28,654 that featured thousands of green jerseys.

"Deep down inside, I am boiling. I really don't understand," said quarterback Kerry Joseph, who passed for a career-best five touchdowns.

"To lose the game the way we lost it, I feel sick. We played hard. We had nothing to play for but each other and we went out and fought against a good football team. To lose the way we lost, I just shake my head."

LATE STRIKE

The Roughriders' Neal Hughes recorded the winning touchdown with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, running in from two yards. The Argos gave up the ball when they tried a fake punt and it went horribly awry, bouncing off the hands of Bryan Crawford and recovered by the Roughriders at Toronto's 39-yard line.

"We had a good look all game long and we thought we could get (a first down off the fake)," Crawford said. "The ball came back a little high and little hard, and I was not quite ready for it. I bobbled it, and it's over."

Toronto finished the season at 4-14 -- its worst record since it was 4-14 in 1995 -- and ended with a nine-game losing streak, its longest in 13 years.

Head coach Don Matthews went 0-8 in his return. He took over a team that was 4-6 and holding on to a playoff spot when Rich Stubler was fired on Sept. 9. How can he be back in 2009 given that record?

Veteran linebacker Mike O'Shea, who finished his 16th season in the CFL, hinted that he wants to come back for another shot at the Grey Cup.

"You're asking the wrong guy," O'Shea said. "Call the GM (Adam Rita). My assumption is you guys know me by now and know there is not any quit in me."

A few minutes later, O'Shea was hugged by several teammates, and sat down to share a few shots of whiskey with Jude St. John, Chad Folk and former Argo Sandy Annunziata.

After the Roughriders scored two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to tie the game 31-31, Joseph engineered a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 12-yard pass to Reggie McNeal in the end zone and Toronto went up 38-31. A shot of the Argos' bench showed the receiving corps posing with sunglasses on, but the celebration was way too early.

Joseph's old nemesis, Michael Bishop, rushed for his third touchdown of the game with less than two minutes remaining, setting the scene for the botched fake punt and winning TD.

Bishop threw four interceptions but, after the game, head coach Ken Miller said the ex-Argo will start in the West Division semi-final against the B.C. Lions.

Of Joseph's 17 touchdown passes this season, 11 were in the final three games. Last night, Andre Talbot had two, while McNeal, Arland Bruce and P.K. Sam had one each.

"We did not do our part, it is very disappointing and we let the offence down," O'Shea said of the play of the defence. "We would have salvaged a little something, however minute it would have been, with a win. I wish we could have done more for the offence."

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REPLAY

THAT'S ALL FOLKS

Last night's game could have been the last in Double Blue for several Argos veterans. LB Mike O'Shea and OG Jude St. John mayy will give retirement a long look, while S Kenny Wheaton said he won't return if coach Don Matthews does. DE Riall Johnson was a healthy scratch and WR Arland Bruce and LB Kevin Eiben are slated to be free agents.

THANKS, PAL

Argos CB Byron Parker twice intercepted Roughriders QB Michael Bishop in the first half. The two were roommates when they played together in Toronto and were scheduled to meet for dinner on Wednesday night. After the first pick, Parker ran straight to Bishop and got in his buddy's face, no doubt to thank him for the gift.

ON THE MARK

O'Shea appeared in his 205th game with the Argos, moving him into second place on the team's career list for games played. Don Moen holds the record with 222. O'Shea was tied with Danny Nykoluk.

HE SAID IT

"A lot of times you put trust in people that make a lot of calls and a lot of times people fail you." -- Bishop on his time in Toronto.


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