Better late than never for Ray

Quarterback Ricky Ray hands off to Cory Boyd during the Argos game against the Alouettes in...

Quarterback Ricky Ray hands off to Cory Boyd during the Argos game against the Alouettes in Montreal on Friday night. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 PM ET

TORONTO - Given his druthers, Ricky Ray would rather play with a big lead, extend it and not face any late-game scenario where any missed assignment, blown call or blown coverage decides the outcome.

In a perfect world, any quarterback on either side of the border would welcome the aforementioned picture.

In reality, it’s a universe that features only the very elite, which clearly the Argos are not in this stage of their evolution and neither can a case be made that any of Toronto’s CFL brethren fall into the category.

Five games into their season and the Argos have won three times by a combined margin of nine points, including two wins that weren’t decided until the very last play.

In a game of inches, wins against Calgary and Montreal were literally decided by a foot as each came down to field goals.

“What it does is it gives you confidence,’’ began Ray when dissecting the merits of playing games that aren’t decided until the very end. “There’s a belief when facing adversity, when games are tight and you need to come back.”

Until they find a way to play a complete game for the entire 60 minutes on both sides of the ball and on special teams, the Argos figure to continue on this path of late-game drama when moments that require plays to be made must be seized.

Friday night presented another example of how the Argos are able to summon something, in this case from their defence.

In the first half, it was the Ray-led offence that stole the show, virtually unstoppable as the Argos took advantage of favourable matchups, namely Chad Owens in man coverage.

In 30 minutes, the Argos scored 20 points, but would have had more if a Ray to Jason Barnes touchdown reception not been called back on a holding call.

In the first half, Ray completed 13 of 17 passes for 236 yards. For the game, he ended with 280 yards on 20 of 30 attempts.

“There are definitely things we need to clean up,’’ Ray said of an Argos offence that managed only four first downs and 20 rushing yards in the second half.

Whether it’s protection, being able to run the ball when defences are aware the ground game will be featured, or hanging on to the football on makeable catches, there’s a lot on the Argos plate and a lot to look forward if all the pieces fall into place at the right time.

“You see glimpses,’’ said Owens. “We have to continue to stay with it and be consistent every week.”

For now, the Argos can live with close games, provided they end up on the winning side.

CALL ’EM THE NEW BLUE

Brandon Isaac is hoping other teams in the CFL are taking note of the Argos and their ability to make plays on defence when called upon.

Just in case the opposition has somehow overlooked the timely picks, sacks and two-and-outs, Isaac offered a reminder in the wake of Friday’s 23-20 win in Montreal, a place that has not been kind to the Argos in recent years.

“We’re going to make things happen,’’ the first-year linebacker said. “We want the CFL to know we are for real.”

The blunt reality with these Argos is that they’ve yet to reach a level of consistent play on either side of the ball to separate themselves for an extended stretch.

When they play well, the Argos are as good as any team, but they haven’t played any game for the entire 60 minutes to suggest anything different will soon follow.

But there’s a resolve and an edge players such as Isaac embrace.

Had Isaac not sacked Anthony Calvillo, the Als would have driven the football deeper into Argos territory and not been forced to rely on a 54-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

“We’re the new Toronto,’’ exclaimed Isaac. “This is new blue. We call ourselves new blue because we believe in each other.”

OWENS IMPLORES CFL TO KEEP IT CLEAN

Chad Owens has taken more than his share of shots, always responding by getting back on his feet and very seldom complaining.

In the aftermath of his team’s 23-20 win in Montreal on Friday, Owens did have an observation he feels the CFL should take to heart as player safety continues to be a theme every official should take seriously.

On one return, Owens saw how rookie defensive lineman Derrick Summers was the victim of a blind-side low cut that left him in obvious discomfort.

No flag was thrown and it took Summers a few minutes to finally summon the necessary strength to continue playing.

“That, right there, in my opinion was a dirty play,’’ said Owens.

Earlier, Owens was brought to the ground on a vicious clothesline at midfield that left him sore.

For one of the few times in his three-year run in Toronto, Owens actually missed a play.

“Could he (Kyries Hebert) have tackled me another way? Maybe. But the league has to continue to look at ways to protect their players.”

 


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