November 12, 2012
Argos QB Ricky Ray spiked it against Eskimos
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - In case you didn’t think Sunday’s East Division semifinal didn’t mean anything extra to Ricky Ray, it did.
And not just because it kept his Toronto Argonauts’ playoff drive alive as they move on to take on the Montreal Alouettes for a chance to play in the 100th Grey Cup, either.
On Sunday, Ray was finally able to dispatch his former Edmonton Eskimos club with an inspired performance that saw the constantly even-keeled quarterback display a level of exuberance not usually seen throughout his 10 CFL seasons.
With six seconds left in a second quarter that saw the Argos offence put up a CFL post-season record 31 points — the most by any team in any quarter — the regularly robotic Ray ran a seven-yard draw play into the end zone before flicking his rarely used emotional switch and making a celebratory leap (that appeared way more athletic than it should have), while spiking the ball between his legs.
It was the nail in the coffin of the Eskimos and a cathartic ending to a year that saw Ray traded away by the only organization he had known in Canadian football. One he lost to in both previous meetings this season.
So those who know him recognized immediately just how much Sunday meant to Ray.
“When he ran in for that touchdown, I haven’t ever seen Ricky show as much emotion that he did, so I know he came to play,” said Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps, whose own emotions were at the opposite end of the feelings spectrum in the locker-room following the 42-26 loss that officially ended a tumultuous 2012 season.
A big part of it was the loss, no doubt, but at least a little piece of Stamps’s disappointment sprung from wondering how this season could have turned out had Ray still been in green and gold.
He was, after all, Ray’s favourite target for the previous three seasons in Edmonton.
“Credit to Toronto, they played a hard-nosed football game and they capitalized on our mistakes,” Stamps said. “They took the game and they ran with it.
“They deserve it. Ricky deserves it. He played strong.”
Fuelled by untimely turnovers on a Cory Boyd fumble and an intercepted Kerry Joseph shovel pass, not to mention a 59-yard punt return touchdown by East most outstanding player Chad Owens, Ray mercilessly completed 23 of 30 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions — despite playing against the defence that led the league in that very department all year.
The closest he came was while taking a shot to the end zone with a ball that appeared to be intercepted by cornerback Joe Burnett, whose six picks led the league this season.
But the play was ruled incomplete upon video review, delivering a big blow to an Eskimos defence that was obviously missing the services of record-setting tackler J.C. Sherritt at the middle linebacker position because of an ankle injury.
In the end, the Eskimos couldn’t come up with an answer for the riddle that was Ricky Ray.
“We just have to continue on and fight,” Stamps said. “The first drive we came out and scored. I don’t know what it was, but after that we just couldn’t keep the momentum.
“You can’t take anything away from those guys.”