The Argos are making the charge, buoyed on by a stumbling Montreal Alouette squad the Argonauts are putting things together nicely as we head into the final weeks of the regular season. With Michael Bishop beginning to round out into the kind of Quarterback the team thought they had, the Argos may just make some noise when the playoffs get underway next month.
With a solid if less than inspiring effort against the Western Division leaders the BC Lions, the Argos improved their record to 9-5-1 on Monday afternoon. With the 22-16 victory giving them four points to breathe with between themselves and the suddenly charging Hamilton Tiger Cats. While first place was locked up by the Als a few weeks ago, the fact the Als have lost their last two games and not looked very good while doing it should give the Boatmen some hope for a shot to knock off the Eastern Champs.
Monday’s game featured Noel Prefontaine’s foot, and a tendency for the receiving corps to stumble offside far too frequently, leading to stalled drives and called back touchdowns. Bishop found his receivers frequently however, putting together impressive drives that ended up just short of majors. Highlight reel catches by Arland Bruce helped to solidify his place in the Argo receiving corps, Bruce appears to be the real deal and it’s amazing that NFL teams would let him slip under the radar.
The Toronto defence played large Monday, sacking the combination of BC QB’s Printers and Dickenson a total of eight times. Unless the BC Offensive line gets back on track, the QB controversy may be a moot point as neither will last under the punishing attack of the Western defences in the playoffs.
On the BC side of the ball, Casey Printers started but proved unable to move the team with any great authority in the first half, both teams traded off field goals as the Argos went into the dressing room up 11-6, the extra points on the strength of a safety in the first quarter.
With a power failure on the offensive side of the room, coach Wally Buono decided to give Dave Dickenson some playing time for the first time since the early part of the season. Dickenson took charge of the offence in the third quarter and met with much the same fate as Printers until the middle part of the fourth quarter, finally getting his timing back on track Dickenson led the Lions downfield late in the game to secure the only major of the game a 68 yard touchdown pass to Chris Brazell at the 7 minute mark, bringing the Leos to within three points of the Argos. Another late game drive ended on third down when an incomplete pass to Jason Clermont ended the drive on the Toronto 44 yard line, the Argos shutting down the Leos and holding on to the 22-16 victory.
For Toronto the win was a huge one, keeping some distance between them and the Ti Cats and keeping the possibility of hosting the Eastern Semi Final high on the Argo agenda. For BC, the loss was not as devastating as a late season loss might be, they still have three games remaining to secure first place in the West, and unless they suffer a complete collapse they should be hosting the Western Final in mid November at BC Place.
The game served to get Dickenson some valuable playing time and with league defences finally starting to understand what makes Casey Printers tick, the time may be at hand to return the ball to Dickenson for the stretch run. Printers has had a remarkable season so far, but many forget he is still a rookie and needs to develop further and understand better the nuances of the CFL game. Look for Dickenson to begin to return to the helm of the Lions offence, his two late game charges downfield the best sample of what he can offer the Lions heading into the playoffs, that intangible of leadership.