The Argonauts will go back to the drawing board to figure out why, despite all their offensive weapons, they came up short in the red zone in a tough 27-24 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
The Argos did score a pair of touchdowns, but settled for field goals on two other key occasions when they had the ball inside the Riders’ 20-yard line at BMO Field. That lack of execution wasn’t the entire story behind the loss — when a victory would have guaranteed a playoff berth — but it was cause for concern for coach Marc Trestman and his staff.
“We had a chance to get off to a fast start on offence, but we limited ourselves,” Trestman said after the game. “We had the ball in the red zone, but we didn’t take advantage.”
Other sore spots for the Boatmen in Saturday’s thriller:
- Several big plays by the Saskatchewan offence despite an ineffective start by quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was replaced mid-game by Mississauga native Brandon Bridge.
- A last-second, eight-yard touchdown pass from Bridge to Naaman Roosevelt in the second quarter, marking the second consecutive week that the Argos had the lead and surrendered a crucial six in the dying moments before the half.
Bridge also hit Caleb Holley for a 75-yard TD pass-and-run in the third quarter that sent Saskatchewan ahead 24-17. That strike came on the first play after the Argos had gone up 17-16, off a 75-yard punt single.
Overall, Bridge was impressive in relief of Glenn, who left after completing just three of eight pass attempts for 29 yards. The Argos were up 16-3 when Bridge entered the game. He went on to complete 20 of 29 passes for 292 yards.
On the bright side for the Boatmen — who beat the Tiger-Cats last week despite allowing Hamilton to rack up more than 450 yards on offence:
- QB Ricky Ray put up some big numbers of his own: 30 for 37 and 341 yards. Ray found S.J. Green open for a 19-yard TD strike at 11:19 of the fourth quarter that tied the game at 24-24. It was their only scoring drive of the second half.
- Kick returner Martese Jackson also had arguably his best game of the season: 67 yards on kickoff runbacks, 26 on punts, plus 16 rushing and 28 receiving with a pair of catches.
- Linebacker Bear Woods, who left practice and was hospitalized with an undisclosed ailment, was cleared to play, though he sat out to err on the side of caution.
Saskatchewan’s Tyler Crapigna booted four field goals, which helped bring the visitors back from that 16-3 deficit and take full advantage of the Argos’ inability to capitalize on their red-zone opportunities.
Bridge completed the comeback with a last-minute drive, moving the ball 64 yards on 11 plays, five of them runs by Kienan Lafrance. With seven seconds left, the ball was close enough for Crapigna to chip in the game winning 18-yard field goal.
“We started the second half and slapped ourselves with penalties . . . and we just didn’t stop them,” Trestman said. “I told the guys, we lost this one as a team.”
The disappointment was universal in the Argos dressing room. This was a hard-fought game that finished without star running back James Wilder Jr. — who was knocked out briefly after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Hanoc Muamba in the fourth quarter.
Wilder left the field under his own power and was examined by medical staff, then spent the rest of the game trying to rally the 15,102 in attendance to cheer the Argos on to a come-from-behind victory.
“He got me on the sweet spot,” Wilder said. “I told (doctors) I was good. I was jumping up and down on the sidelines, trying to get the fans loud, but they said play it safe, so I sat (out the rest of the game).”
Wilder still managed 72 yards on 13 carries and caught seven passes for another 90 yards.
“We didn’t play complete Argo football,” Wilder said. “We didn’t finish. They did, we didn’t.”
The Argos fell to 1-5 against the West and 7-8 overall. They finish with three games against Western opponents.