Argos turn boat around in time

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- The folks in the Manitoba capital are getting serious about their Grey Cup preparations.

Construction began this week on 15,000 temporary end-zone seats in advance of the November classic.

Turns out Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons used the scene to deliver his own message this week, as well.

After a colossal collapse in blowing a 15-3 halftime lead against the Argos last night, the Bombers looked nothing like a team destined to make it to the Prairie party.

Led by the second-half passing heroics of Damon Allen and a defence that dug in when it had to, the Argos stormed back to swipe a dramatic 18-15 victory.

Argos receiver Arland Bruce secured the victory with a wild seven-yard touchdown catch with 2:23 remaining but it didn't come without some added angst.

The on-field officials ruled the pass incomplete believing the Argos receiver didn't get both feet down in the end zone. But video review clearly showed Bruce planting his left foot on the blue end zone turf and overturned the call.

So instead, it was the Argonauts who were allowed to let faint thoughts of the Grey Cup seep into their minds last night as the second half of the CFL season kicked off.

Though he tells his players not to look too far ahead, Clemons made sure the team took stock of the surroundings at Canad Inn Stadium. During Thursday's walk-through, he stressed that a win last night would get them on the way to a return visit with much more on the line.

"We wanted to send a message about coming back here," Clemons said. "We introduced the offence (last night) and the next time we come back, I'd like to introduce the defence. We always introduce the defence in the Grey Cup.

"Defence wins championships. That's always the way."

As dramatic as the Allen-led comeback was, it was arguably the D that allowed it to happen. After letting Charles Roberts scamper for 99 first-half rushing yards and committing costly penalties to fall into the deep hole, the Argos defenders fought to pitch a second-half shutout.

"A lot of times you just can't squeeze the stick so hard," Argos linebacker Mike O'Shea said. "We just made our adjustments. It was all basic stuff, we just had to reaffirm it."

WEREN'T DONE

Even after Bruce's apparent winning touchdown, the shenanigans weren't done. After forcing a Bombers punt, all the Argos needed to do was be careful to secure the win.

Instead, Jeff Johnson mis-handled Allen's handoff and fumbled on his own 25-yard line. But shaky Bombers quarterback Mike Quinn was picked off by Orlondo Steinauer in the end zone on the next play.

With the win, the Argos (5-5) moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Division with the Bombers, and are within shouting distance of first-place Montreal (7-3).

Though he was no threat on this night to ring up 441 yards and catch Warren Moon's pro football record of 70,553 yards, Allen was the captain of the comeback.

"We showed a little character as a football team, to be able to fight back and win that ball game," Allen said. "We just got into our rhythm in the second half."

Prior to the Bruce clincher, Allen threw for 217 yards in the second half, including a nifty 73-yard bomb to R.J. Soward to make the score 15-10. Allen ended completing 21 of 31 for 272 yards, leaving him 169 shy of Moon's mark.

"The legend came through again," Clemons said. "He always seems to deliver."


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