Argos' offence no match for Ticats

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

TORONTO - About 10 minutes after Jim Barker took responsibility for the Argonauts’ butt-kicking courtesy of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, his starting quarterback shoved himself into the spotlight.

“You can point the finger at me,” Cleo Lemon said in a deathly quiet Argos locker room. “I need to play better and I will play better.”

One could argue, fairly successfully, that Lemon probably won’t play much better in the Argos’ three remaining regular-season games. The offence is about as threatening as a baloney sandwich, and though special teams were not good either, a lack of scoring is why the Argos were pummelled 30-3 by the Ticats before a season-high crowd of 25,181 at the Rogers Centre.

There was plenty on the line — a playoff berth in the East Division, which the Ticats clinched with their seventh win in 10 games. Just because the stakes were high shouldn’t have led one to expect that the offence would be lights out. This group, with Lemon starting 14 of the 15 games, has struggled all season, and Cory Boyd or not, it has done little to inspire a feeling that success will be the end result.

The Argos might secure a playoff berth this weekend — they will get one for the first time since 2007 if the Edmonton Eskimos lose on Saturday and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lose on Sunday. In all likelihood, the Argos would play the Ticats at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the East semifinal.

After the embarrassing debacle Friday, why would anyone who is sober think the Argos could win that game?

And Lemon will be the guy as long as he is healthy. Barker will stick with his 31-year-old quarterback, which should put any calls for Casey Printers to be signed to bed. Dalton Bell was put in for a couple of series in the third quarter, the first time this season that Lemon was pulled because of poor play, but Bell won’t get another shot next week in Winnipeg.

“Cleo is our starter,” Barker said. “We are going to go as far as Cleo Lemon takes us, and I know that.”

As brutal as Lemon and the offence was, the Ticats defence was outstanding. As a whole, it forced seven Argos turnovers and had four quarterback sacks. And it’s safe to say that neither Boyd nor returner Chad Owens were hit as hard in any other game this season. Boyd, who had just 26 yards on 11 carries, suffered a left ankle injury and left in the fourth quarter when the outcome was clear, but said later there’s no way he will miss the game next Saturday against the Blue Bombers. Owens bonked his head on the turf, and though he said he can’t remember being knocked around as much as he was, indicated he will be good to go against the Bombers.

The Ticats, who swept the Argos in a season series for the first time since 2001, led 10-3 at the half and turned a pair of Toronto turnovers into touchdowns after the break, with Kevin Glenn finding Marquay McDaniel and former Argo Arland Bruce III for majors to blow the game open.

The Toronto defence was dead tired by the final gun.

“As a defence did not create enough turnovers to win the game,” cornerback Byron Parker said.

There’s no way any member of the defence should be lamenting the lack of turnovers following a loss. The offence has to score.


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