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North of Toronto, South of a championship

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Why the Argos win on Sunday matters

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It’s November and everything feels all strange and flipped up. When I listen to the Fan, they’re talking Jays. When I put on TSN, they’re showing basketball. And when I think back to last weekend, I remember the Argonauts defeating the Montreal Alouettes in a road playoff game.

And the biggest news out of Leaf-land? Some guy with far too much money in Barrie paid over $5,300 for something the Leafs took a crap in. You’d think they’d throw in a copy of Game Seven of the 1993 Conference Finals too, if that’s what he was after. Sometimes no real news is the best news.

Remember when Grantland called Toronto the worst sports city in the greater Milky Way Galaxy? How quickly things have changed. On the back of their huge trade, the Jays have positioned themselves as contenders in the crowded AL East. With the play of DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, the Raptors have shown there’s maybe a future to this crop of youngsters. Without the Leafs playing, Toronto’s other hockey team has been showing up on TV and they’re tearing it up: on Saturday, they beat up on the Hamilton Bulldogs. And Nazem Kadri’s picked up eight points in his past four games. I don’t think the Marlies will ever threaten the Leafs TV ratings, but playing so well on a TV broadcast will certainly help spread the word that there’s good hockey to be seen at the Ricoh at a fraction of the price of a Leafs game. More parking there, too.

But the biggest news of the weekend is about the Argos, that team which keeps getting written off, even by yours truly. When they went into the playoffs, I suggested they had backed into a spot thanks to even worse play by Hamilton and Winnipeg. I noted how they allowed more than they scored through the season’s end. But they beat Edmonton in a fun game, mostly thanks to a crazy second quarter where they scored 31 points and managed to intercept a shovel pass from Edmonton QB Kerry Joseph.

Still, I was a little skeptical after the win: Edmonton wasn’t a great team. They finished in the bottom of the Western Conference and only made the playoffs thanks to lacklustre seasons from Hamilton and Winnipeg. The Montreal Alouettes were a much better team and they’ve done the Argos in during the playoffs before. One of my first posts here was a dispatch from an Argos/Alouettes playoff game in 2005: the Argos blew a first half lead and lost while people in the upper deck went insane. I remember a crazed Montreal fan screaming and trying to pick fights while people threw plastic horns at him before security stepped in.

There’s been other times. In 2007, Toronto dropped conference final game at home to a surging Winnipeg team. And in 2010, they were blown out by Montreal, 48-17 (I don’t think I wrote about this game). There’s not many good omens to a Toronto/Montreal playoff game. And when Montreal got off to a good start, leading 17-7 near halftime I figured it was over. After all, the Argos scoring to that point looked like this: field goal, rouge, safety and another rouge. They blew a first-and-goal from Montreal’s one-yard line, getting stuffed on three consecutive runs. Not an inspiring first half.

So what happened? How did the Argos turn things on in the second? Their offence started coming together and their defence held Montreal steady: after scoring a touchdown in the second, Montreal was held to one field goal, despite getting into Argo territory multiple times. They got as close as Toronto’s eight yard line, but settled for a field goal. In the fourth quarter alone, they turned the ball over three times. They got really damn close, dropping what would’ve been a game-clinching TD late in the fourth, but just couldn’t do it. The Argos somehow held on, despite the odds and recent history.

It sets up what should be a dream senario for the Argos and their fans. They’re playing Calgary for the Grey Cup on home turf. It’s the 100th Grey Cup, which means there’s going to be pomp and excess on a level only Toronto could really handle without looking crazy. Noted football fiend and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will probably be at the game in some loud, media-unfriendly capacity. I hope to hell he goes full-Nixon and tries to draw up a play for the Argos.

Toronto’s long been chided for not caring enough about it’s CFL team. There’s probably some truth in that, but one could argue that every Toronto team not named Maple Leafs doesn’t get its proper share of attention. Here’s a chance to change that. Not many teams get to play for the CFL’s title on their home turf. And Toronto hasn’t had a champion in any sport in eight years. Even if you’re not a CFL fan, this weekend is a special one in Toronto sports.

Written by M.

November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm

How the Argos lost – Notes on the 07 East Final

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Nobody thought it would end like this – but nobody foresaw the Argonaut’s fingers seemingly coated in butter, either.
Yes, the Toronto Argonauts, who entered the playoffs winning their last seven games in a row, lost decisively to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a game marred by turnovers – some three on each side.
As the fourth quarter started, with the Bombers inside the Argo 10 yard line, it looked as if the Bombers were going to try and wrap things up. After all, they led 19 – 1; the game was theirs to lose.
But when Bomber QB Kevin Glenn hurt his arm in the fourth while diving on a loose ball, the momentum shifted, significantly, to the battered Argos.
One monster pass to Arlen Bruce III later, and the game, the Argos and even the fans, roared back to life.
Michael Bishop showed off his powerful throwing arm, driving the Argos some 92 yards to their first touchdown of the game with some long, precise passes, capped off with his own quarterback sneak for the major.
As reserve quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie came in for the Bombers, the Argo fans were on their feet and screaming.
It seemed a lot like the inverse of the last Eastern Final played in the Rogers Centre in 2005. In that game, the Argos led throughout the first half, only to collapse to Montreal – and in particular, to QB Anthony Calvillo – in the second, losing 33-17.
“All of a sudden, this isn’t the Rogers Centre – this is the noise dome,” said CBC’s Steve Armitage.
But Dinwiddie pulled it out. Airing the ball, and running down the clock, he wore down the Toronto defence with long passes. A touchdown pass to Edwards sealed the victory for the Bombers.
Or did it? The ref on the field had to check it out – and then went to the booth for a review. And it was overturned.
And then the Argos grabbed another fumble in their own end.
“Are you kidding me,” shouted CBC’s colour commentator Khari Jones. “That’s their third fumble today!
“They should be blowing the Argos out!”
But Toronto’s ball-handling woes continued, as their receivers dropped passes that would have brought the Argos deep into Winnipeg territory.
Winnipeg’s smothering defence kept the Argos out of the game, clogging the secondary and keeping Bishop under pressure – including a huge sack late in the fourth.
It was an incomplete pass, late in the fourth that sealed it – although, with less then two minutes to play, what could the Argos have done? They would have needed a touchdown, then a field goal – just to tie.
Nonetheless, the Bombers prevailed. They limited the Argos to just 31 rushing yards and keeping the Argo offense smothered, like a heavy blanket put on a fire, for three quarters.
“We played them well all year,” said Winnipeg running back Charles Roberts.
“We took it upon ourselves to come out here and prove them wrong.”
And so, what an upset it was. The Bombers were seven underdogs going into this game, but they played like 14 point favourites. They ran the ball, they passed the ball and they, most importantly, stopped the Argos from doing likewise.
Simply put, they played like champs.
And in the end, that was the only thing that mattered.

Written by M.

November 19, 2007 at 11:43 am

Welcome to Toronto

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I was watching the NBA Playoffs on The Score when I found out the news that everybody has been expecting but was not really sure about: Ricky Williams has offically signed with the Argos.

On a day where Carolina won a OT thriller, where Barry Bonds hit his 715th home run and the Mavericks defence shut down the best offence in the NBA, it was signing of a running back that I’ll remember the most.

Last season the Argos posted a great – 11 wins, 7 losses – record but lost to their rivals from Quebec, the Montreal Alouettes, in an epic 2nd half collapse that I witnessed first hand. It was almost sickening, really – although it’s hard to feel that way when you have free tickets way up in the 500 section, with people drinking copious amounts of liquor, waving around camcorders and lit cigarettes and acting crazy, yelling at a lone Quebecber, who is all too keen to yell right back, like some 21st century Rocket Richard… Right, where was I?

Oh yes, the Ricky Williams signing.

This will be good for the Argos – they don’t really need a running back as much as they do a Quarterback or a wide reciever that can catch a ball in the 4th quarter… but Ricky isn’t just a running back. He’s a player that instantly makes his entire defence better – from drawing extra coverage away from other players, from an explosive abilty to run with the ball and a decent – not that it’ll be used much in the CFL – ability to recieve passes. He could be – okay, is – the cog that could win the Argos a Grey Cup (but the same could be said for any team, really. He could help the Hamburg Blitz win a NFL Europe championship, whatever that’s called, had he signed over there).

And he’s a draw. A name player. Someone who even my grandmother makes jokes about – and will pay to see. And I suspect she’s not alone, either. The Argos haven’t had a name like this since the days of Pinball and Flutie and the Rocket in the 90s.

******

He came; he saw; he, er, got seven yards of rushing.

So who cares? It’s the Preseason, baby… if the Argo sdecided to run him like they will later in September, they risk getting him hurt – a major no-no for them and their relationship with the Miami Dolphins.

So stop caring that Ricky was barely there – let’s focus on the real issue at hand; Joe “Glass Leg” Theismann’s sudden love of the Argos, the team he ran away from once the Redskins made him an offer and never once looked back.

Written by M.

May 28, 2006 at 11:46 pm

Posted in argonauts, cfl, football