MONTREAL - With Cory Boyd out, we expected the Argos offence would take somewhat of a step back.
We just didnít think the offence would put it in reverse.
Thatís exactly what it looked like, though, for the better part of 21/2 quarters. One big play midway through the third was just a hiccup as the offence went right back to sleep.
In short, it was hard to watch.
Consider that half-way through the third quarter the Argos had a team total of seven catches for 59 yards. Alouettes running back Brandon Whitaker, meanwhile, had 10 catches for 88 yards at that point in the game all by himself.
For the first half, the Argos had a total of four first downs to 17 by Montreal.
The Argos managed to stay in the game despite the lopsided stat board in part because of the special teams play, but also because their defence is apparently incapable of becoming fatigued.
For three quarters they were on the field for all but a little more than 12 minutes of the 45 minutes played. By rights, they should have been dead by halftime.
Full credit to them for staying in it, but the questions about the Argosí offensive ineptitude are only going to get louder.
Bottom line, the Argos need to find some game-breakers and fast.
Lemon will take the bulk of the blame as every quarterback seems to, and he is certainly a contributing factor, but the receiving corps isnít exactly doing a heck of a lot either.
THE HUNT CALLED OFF
No Kevin Huntley took a lot of the intrigue out of the game. Sure, Ricky Foley had some unkind words for the Alouettesí show-boating receivers and their blocks from the blind side, but it was Huntley who very specifically threatened to take S.J. Green, flip him upside down and drop him on his head if he got the chance. Huntley, though, had some inflammation of his Achilles and was a last-second scratch.
A STEP BACK
As good as Ejiro Kuale was in his first start a week ago, twice he had Brandon Whitteker in his sights and let him get outside for back-to-back big gains in the first two possessions of the game.
Things didnít get much better for Kuale in the second half when he was flagged for an objectionable conduct penalty on Foleyís interception. Instead of having the ball at their own 50, the penalty took the Argos back to their own 35.
Head coach Jim Barker got right in Kualeís ear and from that point on Kuale started to look like the guy who was so strong just a week ago.
He put a nice lick on Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo early in the fourth quarter and was flying around from that point on.
WORTH THE CHALLENGE
Good for Barker for throwing that challenge flag on Calvilloís record-setting touchdown pass. As soon as the catch was made, three Argonauts defenders waved the touchdown off. Barker, having worked alongside Calvillo, probably didnít relish the idea of tarnishing the record-setting toss in any way but he went ahead with it. There will doubtless be those who say it was inappropriate to throw the challenge flag, but regardless of the historical significance, Barkerís first responsibility is to his team and he followed through on that.
BUST FACTOR IS BACK
Nice response from Chad Owens who spent the majority of the first two games shooting himself in the foot trying to do too much. Second chance with the ball in his hands in Montreal, the team that considered him expendable a year ago, Owens busted loose for an 89-yard return to the Montreal 15. An unnecessary roughing penalty on the Als on the return took the ball inside the 10, where Lemon showed off some of that much-talked-about added speed and ran it in from nine yards out to tie the game at seven.
SOME EARLY FIGHT
Anyone still doubting how badly the Argos wanted this game and how furious they remain over the grandstanding and cheap shots they feel Montreal did far too much of in the Eastern final last season need only have watched Jeremaine Copeland on a little swing pass to Mike Bradwell just before the end of the first quarter.
Copeland is a fine, fine receiver but in terms of a blocking receiver his reputation isnít that extensive. Billy Parker found that out when he went after Bradwell and got deposited on his rear end as Copeland came back to help out.
Noel Prefontaine would have been proud of that one.
BACKUP SHOULD SHUT UP
The Montreal Alouettes talk a good game, but they also play a pretty good one. However, reserve quarterback Anthony McPherson, the one-yard plunge expert, might want to earn his stripes before he starts following in the paths of some of his more accomplished teammates. McPherson appeared to be doing as much talking as anyone in an Alouette uniform. At one point Lin-J Shell appeared to have heard enough and invited McPherson to back it up at which point the backup quarterback did what he does best and backed up behind some of his bigger teammates.