TORONTO - It may have been the first time this season that the entire Argo fan club were squarely behind Cleo Lemon.
Up 7-0 and perfect in the passing game, Lemon had the Argonauts marching again. All he had to do was hook slide and he was well within range of his first two-major score in an opening quarter this season.
But Lemon didn't slide, instead taking a hard, what appeared to be, helmet-to-helmet hit from Joe Lobendahn and his afternoon was over.
Lemon tried to get back in the huddle but could not, walking toward the bench before taking a knee and waiting for the trainers.
He went straight to the locker room and when he returned he did so without his sh oulder pads. Afternoon over for Lemon. Cue the Dalton Bell watch.
Bell, who has patiently been waiting for his chance for seemingly his entire career started slowly settling for a 30-yard field goal despite having a first down on the Winnipeg 26.
His next series was what all the Lemon bashers out there -- yes, there are plenty -- had hoped to see. A three-play touchdown drive highlight by a 35-yard run by Andre Durie, a roughing-the-passer penalty that fetched another 15 yards and finally a 22-yard touchdown toss to Sammy Tranks. In all honesty, it was the move Tranks made after catching the ball, leaving a Winnipeg defender looking for a rock to crawl under, that made the play, but it gave the Argos a 17-3 lead. And it gave Bell instant credibility.
Then the wheels would fall off.
The Argos would not score again until the fourth quarter and even that score had barely been digested when the Bombers turned around answered with a major of their own.
Bell showed flashes of the guy those bemoaning head coach Jim Barker's unwavering loyalty to Lemon wanted to see but nowhere near enough.
If Lemon is healthy enough and can practise, it says here it will be Lemon returning to the starting role and Bell shipped back to the bench.
Too often Bell locked onto a receiver and didn't come off him. He got better was the game went on, but that approach is going to eventually lead to interceptions and sure enough Bell threw two of those and could have had four in the game were the Winnipeg defenders a little more sure-handed.
That wasn't not much of a chance for Bell, we readily admit, but knowing Barker's level of comfort with Lemon and the support he has given him even with plenty of doubt from the Argos fan base, we can't see Barker making a change based on what transpired Saturday.
A CHARMED LIFE
Sammy Tranks opened a few eyes in his first start of the season for a couple of different reason.
The slot receiver made a fine move to spring himself free and clear for a 22-yard touchdown in the second half after hauling in a Bell pass.
It's exactly the kind of play-making move that has been lacking by the Argos receiving corps for the bulk of the young season.
That wasn't the first time Tranks caught our eye, though. On the second play of the game, Tranks came from the blindside and laid what appeared to be a textbook crack-back block on the CFL's leading sackmaster Odell Willis.
Were Willis the volatile type, things could have got pretty ugly right there, but Willis chose to look at that particular play a little differently than most might.
"I look at it like they're giving me respect," Willis said. "They got to send receivers to come block me from the blindside? I look at that as respect. Anytime you have a receiver come crack on me, that means a DB don't have to cover someone. That's easy work for them. They're just showing respect to Swaggerville."
Granted, that's one way to look at it. Another is Tranks is very fortunate Willis is not a vengeful man.
WORKING THE RUN
It didn't result in the win the Argos wanted but the Argos offence looked a heck of a lot more respectable this week than they did a week ago in Montreal.
The reason was a nice mix of the run and the passing game with Chad Kackert getting 13 carries for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns and a three more carries from Andre Durie which included a huge 36-yard gain. Durie, in our opinion, has been under-utilized in the offence and getting him a few touches at running back only makes sense.
Kudos also to Kackert, who appears to have fixed his ball-security problems of a week ago.
BUCK MAKES HAY
Buck Pierce enjoyed his finest day of the season at the Argos expense but it has to come with an asterik. Pierce had 92 yards passing and had put six points on the board through the first half.
But in the second Pierce had a game's worth of stats going 13-for-17 for 269 yards and three touchdown passes.
But it should be noted that the Argos, in that second half lost starting middle linebacker Ejiro Kuale to ejection, outside linebacker Anthony Cannon to injury and both starting halfbacks, Lin-J Shell and Evan McCollough, to injury.