Argos fall in Basement Bowl

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On the heels of Saturday’s 29-24 loss at Winnipeg, one question must be asked: Can it get any worse for the Toronto Argonauts?

At 3-9, their winning percentage is worse than Vernon Wells’ batting average (.262). On Saturday night, they showed less discipline than Dennis the Menace. They face another quarterback controversy after Kerry Joseph’s decent play coming off the bench. But it’s also the way they lose games.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse: losing games they led only to give them away in the final minute (BC in Week 7, Calgary two weeks later), or being absolutely terrible for most of the game and still fall just short. They did manage to win the fourth quarter 15-0, but it was a case of too little, too late.

Running back Jamal Robertson was less than convincing, with only 42 yards on 11 carries, which included a lost fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The defence couldn’t make key stops on second down when it mattered, and two of their best players — Rob Murphy and Zeke Moreno — lost their cool and were ejected in the fourth quarter.

I’ll never call a game “a must-win” until we get to the point of mathematical elimination, but the Basement Bowl was the closest thing. Toronto is stuck at three wins, two games behind BC for the final Eastern playoff spot. Furthermore, they lost both of their matchups against the Lions this season. Winnipeg is in a decent spot. One game behind BC, they play four of their six remaining games at home, including a tilt against Wally Buono and company on October 18th.

On top of that, the Bombers, for once this season, have to be pleased with the play of their starting quarterback. Michael Bishop was very efficient, completing 23 of 32 passes with two touchdowns, but the best part of his game was between the ears. He knew when to stretch the field and when to check it down to Fred Reid, who himself was productive, with 86 total yards on 17 touches.

Before the game, I was walking through Canad Inns Stadium and saw one fan with a paper bag over his head, with black writing that read “Coach Kelly makes me drink”. Another fan came equipped with a sign that said “Gretzky can coach the Bombers”. Funny how after the game, the very same fans likely shared in the collective optimism that surrounds the city of Winnipeg.

Now it’s Toronto that faces all the questions. Could Bart Andrus start Kerry Joseph for the remainder of the season and claim that he’s looking towards 2010? Some might call that naive, seeing how Andrus should be more worried about his job security, but we’ll see how it unfolds.

So can it get worse for the Argos. Yeah, they could get shutout by Montreal next week. That would be rough…

-Marc Tessier

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