And the search for Argo consistency continues
A football game story?
Of course a football game story.
(And we'll have the usual fare sometime this morning before an ealry flight home, I hope)
VANCOUVER – Since the day training camp began, Argos quarterback Ricky Ray has been preaching the need for offensive consistency, for his unit to go smoothly and steadily from one week to the next, preaching that it was the hallmark of a good team.
The search goes on.
An anemic offence that’s biggest gain while the game was in doubt was a 28-yard rush negated by a holding penalty could get no traction, sustain no drives and failed miserably most of the night as Toronto fell 24-16 to the B.C. Lions here Thursday night in its first road game of the CFL season.
The numbers were numbing: 249 yards of total offence, just 34 yards on the ground and not a significant big play against a Lions defence that didn’t allow a pass downfield all night.
Ray was harassed all night, sacked once, committed Toronto’s first turnover in two games and managed to throw for just 215 yards with about of 50 of them came in the game’s final two minutes when the outcome had already been decided.
“We just came in here and didn’t play well enough,” said Ray. “That’s a case where week in and week out, you have to play your best game because you’re not going to give yourself a chance to win if you don’t do that.
“We couldn’t get drives going or keep any drives going, That’s the most frustrating part of your team when you’re out there and you just can’t get anything going.”
And when the ground game was equally inept, it was simply too much for Toronto to overcome, a late, basically meaningless drive that ended in a Ray touchdown only making the game closer; a more stirring comeback would have been theft of the grand order.
The game followed a familiar script, or at least appeared. The Lions moved the ball almost at will in putting 17 points on the board in the first half – three field goals, a single and a Travis Lulay touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor – before the Argos settled in.
The only points they surrendered in the second half came on a touchdown after a turnover and a costly penalty; the defence gave the offence a shot it could capitalize on.
“We just didn’t get in to any kind of rhythm where we kept drives going and then we had a couple of big turnovers in the second half (a Jalil Carter interception and a Janzen Jackson blocked punt) where we had great field position and couldn’t capitalize on that, either,” said Ray.
“We just didn’t play a good game, they forced a lot of check-downs, I missed some throws when we did have some primary guys open. They played well and we didn’t play our best game.”
Khalif Mitchell was central to the Lions’ game-clinching touchdown that came with about four minutes left, giving B.C. a 24-7 lead and sending a good chunk of the announced crowd of 25,255 scurrying for the exits.
The one-time Lion, as emotional player as there is, put a late shot on B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay – not necessarily a dirty play but with a little bit of hands-to-the-head action – that earned him a roughing the passer penalty and kept alive a Lions drive.
Andrew Harris went four yards for a touchdown on the next play to wrap up the game.
“I thought it was arguable, it could have gone either way,” said coach Scott Milanovich. “It certainly could have been called but I’ve also seen them not be called. I didn’t think it was a cheap shot or dirty play, they called it and that’s the way it goes. I was proud of the way he handled himself.”
The Argonaut offence was missing a key component when receiver Dontrelle Inman was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury. It might not have made a difference considering how well the Lions defended against any deep threat but it would have given Ray another target.
“Certainly having Dontrelle out there makes us a better team but there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for him to do what he does anyway,” said Milanovich. “It wasn’t worth the risk of him injuring it further.”