Argos win but they're not laughing
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
|Argonauts quarterback Jarious Jackson scrambles for a first down against the Blue Bombers at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., July 18, 2012. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - There was no reason for the Argonauts to not win a laugher on Wednesday night.
After all, the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers hadn’t won a game in three previous attempts in 2012, and in the process of battling with the Argos, lost starters Ian Logan, Terrence Edwards and Brandon Collier to injury.
Bombers starting quarterback Buck Pierce was off somewhere else, recovering from the 1,598th injury he has suffered since his CFL career began in 2005.
Not only did the Argos not a win a laugher, however, they barely managed to win, requiring a 37-yard touchdown catch by Jason Barnes with just over two minutes remaining for the difference in a 25-22 victory.
If the glass is half full, then you could say it was a character-building victory, one that perhaps demonstrated that quarterback Ricky Ray is getting a firmer grasp on the offence.
If the glass is half empty, one could argue that the Argos remain a team with plenty of work ahead of it, considering it should have had a much easier time with Bombers quarterback Alex Brink and the rest of the winless Bombers.
Truth is, on a pleasant summer night at with the roof at the Rogers Centre wide open, the Argos aren’t anywhere near becoming the kind of team that truly will challenge for a Grey Cup in November.
Rather than bury a Bombers team that will return to Winnipeg for four consecutive home games after losing four on the road, the Argos watched as Justin Palardy booted a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter to give his team a four-point lead.
Only because Barnes found himself wide open did the Argos emerge with a victory.
BETWEEN THE WHISTLES
Chad Owens thumped his chest and pointed upward after hauling in a perfect pass from Ray for a 37-yard touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter. Rather than give it up for God, however, Owens should have sought out general manager Jim Barker after the game and thanked him for acquiring Ray from Edmonton. That kind of pinpoint throw has not been made by an Argos quarterback in years, and it was Owens’ first receiving touchdown since 2010, when he had three … Overall, though, not a scintillating night for Owens. His fumbled punt return went right to Jovon Johnson in the fourth quarter, and the Bombers used it to go ahead 19-18 on a 38-yard field goal by Palardy … Andre Durie had a rough beginning for the Argos, twice dropping passes that would have resulted in first downs. But he made up for it in a big way, snaring a 22-yard pass from Ray to end the first quarter and hauling in a 50-yarder on the same drive, getting the Argos to the Bombers’ 11-yard line. But Toronto had to settle for an 18-yard field goal by Swayze Waters … Who was Brink throwing to when Jordan Younger intercepted his pass and returned it 43 yards, eventually leading to Owens’ major? Hard to say. Officially, it was Clarence Denmark, but the football sailed 10 yards past the receiver and into the hands of Younger … What kind of impact can be expected from Ray in the long term? We saw a glimpse of it early in the game. Durie dropped a pass, forcing the Argos to punt. On their next possession, Ray found Cory Boyd for a seven-yard touchdown reception. In recent years, something as simple as the Durie miscue might have killed whatever fragile confidence the Argos had. Ray shrugged it off like it never happened … Brandon Isaac pressured Brink into throwing a wounded duck that was picked off by Robert McCune, with the Boyd touchdown coming a few plays later. Isaac and McCune also were two of the Argos who later could not grasp speedy Bombers running back Chad Simpson, leading to a 31-yard gain.
Nice hustle by Chris Van Zeyl to tackle Johnson in the end zone after Waters missed a 45-yard field goal, especially after the Argos’ special teams came under such scrutiny in the days leading to the game … Defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones ripped off his headset and slammed it on the field after the Argos were whistled for too many men on the field early in the third quarter. The Bombers couldn’t take advantage, though, and had to punt soon after … How much will Noel Prefontaine be missed in the Argos’ locker room as he recovers from the hip surgery he soon will have? “Not having him there is going to be tough,” said Ray, who played with Prefontaine for two-plus seasons in Edmonton. “That’s where we are really going to miss him. He’s a good player, lots of heart, gets good field position. He’s a great guy and you feel for him.” A torn labrum in his left hip, Prefontaine acknowledged on Tuesday, may have spelled the end of his CFL career … Announced attendance was 22,485. Did that include the people going up and down the CN Tower elevators?