Argos' playoff hopes put on hold

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 PM ET

The longest-serving CFLer on the Argonauts roster had a difficult time remembering anything like it.

The Argos couldn’t have been more flat on Friday night in such a big game, and nothing in Jeff Johnson’s memory bank told him that, yes, there had been previous times when the Argos were as bad with so much riding on the outcome.

Had the Argos beaten the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, instead of absorbing a 30-3 loss, they would have clinched a playoff spot.

And now, thanks to the Edmonton Eskimos’ overtime win against the B.C. Lions on Saturday night, the Argos remain without an official post-season berth. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers did their part on Sunday when they lost in Montreal against the Alouettes. Had the Esks lost as well, the Argos would have been competing after the regular season for the first time since 2007.

The Eskimos or B.C. Lions, both 5-10, still could cross over and take a playoff spot in the East. The Argos, at 7-8, aren’t safe yet, but an appearance at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton for the East semi-final is close to certain. The Als will play host to the East final on Nov. 21, something that became fact when they beat the Bombers.

“Ultimately we want to get in the playoffs, but playing like that (against Hamilton), even if we do get in the playoffs, it’s not going to last that long,” Johnson, in his 11th season in the CFL and ninth in Double Blue. “The only thing I can hope is that this is the last time we come out like this. We have to right this ship now. We have some things to take care of.”

That was one vibe that emanated from the majority of veterans after the game on Friday. There was disbelief that the offence didn’t produce anything, with the lone field goal by Noel Prefontaine representing the Argos’ lowest output of the season. Just as stunning was the reality that the Argos were swept by the Ticats, losing all three games against their QEW rivals. Losing twice to the same team in the same season? That happens. But three losses? That’s hard to do. Hamilton had not put the brooms to Toronto since 2001.

“We can’t even score a touchdown in the CFL?” centre Dominic Picard said. “We have three more games and we have to start being consistent.

“It’s all about us getting better. I don’t really think about anything else.”

Of course, the Argos were done in by their inability to find the end zone. Strangely, the Boatmen actually held a slight edge of 46 more seconds in time of possession over the Ticats.

But once the superb Hamilton defence took Cory Boyd out of the equation — first by stacking the box and then by forcing him out with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter — the Argos were toast.

When it became clear that Boyd wasn’t going to be able to bust through the wall of Tiger-Cats, no one on offence took the spotlight.

In Boyd’s eyes, and in those of anyone who has watched the Argos for any length of time in 2010, that somehow has to change.

“It’s a call to the other guys on offence to step up and be playmakers,” Boyd said. “Whenever you get an opportunity, you can’t wait for someone else to do it. You have to take it by the horns.”

In the bigger picture, Johnson was bang on. If the Argos don’t play smart football, starting on Saturday in Winnipeg versus the Bombers, it won’t really matter that they return to the playoffs.

They’ll be finished quickly.


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