“That’s so Argos”, Toronto drops to 0-3 after series of miscues and rare ending

On the same day that Kawhi Leonard decided to take his talents back home to Southern California in the wee hours of the morning, Toronto sports are officially back to the norm as the now 0-3 Argos took their cue by losing in the most painful of ways to the now 1-3 B.C. Lions: 

A missed field goal caught by Chris Rainey – accidentally stepping out of bounds – in the smaller-than-regulation BMO Field end zones leading to a walk off rouge? Just a straight up tragicomedy if you ask me. 

“It was kinda high, and then it kept sailing back and then I was looking to not go too far back deep,” Rainey said post game. “And then when I caught it, I see the white and took a step, when I heard the whistle I was like ah shit, that was it…it’s most definitely the worst way to lose, that one point will kill you.” 

While the crowd who sat through a sun-shower filled and muggy evening had the air sucked out of them on that final play, the loss can’t be pinned on Rainey as his punt return TD late in the third quarter was one of the only reasons they were still in the game as it jump started another underwhelming day for the offence to cut the Lions lead to 10-9 at that point. 

Down 17-9 and needing a two minute drill TD to extend the game, James Wilder Jr. finally put the team on his back after a 19-yard run to get into Lions territory, two completions to Derel Walker and Jimmy Ralph, catching a screen pass and rumbling into the end zone after a few stumbles to keep hope alive: 

S.J. Green was able to snare a low pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the two-point conversion and tie the game briefly. That was before the defence which had been fairly solid all night immediately faltered. Giving up chunk plays of a 28-yard catch and run by Brandon Rutley and 24-yard reception by Shaq Johnson to set up the final sequence. 

In his post-game press conference, head coach Corey Chamblin commended his team for fighting through mental fatigue of another game filled with too many mistakes on both ends, but also noted the progress made over the first three weeks since getting pasted by the Ticats in the season opener. 

“We’re headed in a winning direction.” Chamblin said. 

He’d better hope so as the team will now be on the road for three straight games in a brutal stretch that sees them face Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. Gulp.

Here’s the rest of my notebook from Saturday night’s affair:

  1. The front seven had been lacking impact plays through the first two games of the season but were thrown a bone facing the Lions toilet paper thin offensive line that’s given up a league-high 15 sacks, as both Cleyon Lang and Shawn Lemon were able to record their first of the season. 

While getting a consistent rush led to Mike Reilly having a fairly nonchalant game throwing for just 272 yards, the run defence took a major step back. John White ran wild and consistently into the second level through arm tackles averaging over six yards a carry. He  finished his night with 26 touches for 166 all-purpose yards. 

It’s clear this defence has a chance to be solid, but they’re still waiting to put both facets together moving forward. 

“Defensively I feel like we played better than we been playing, but we gotta hold them to less points or in a two minute situation get the ball back to the offence quicker,” Shawn Lemon told 3DownNation. “Just keep chopping wood man…I’ve been around this league for a while, we won the Grey Cup at 9-9…just do what we’ve been doing today, we took some steps in the right direction so just keep doing that and it’ll result in a win for us.” 

  1. McLeod Bethel-Thompson may not be at the top of anyone’s CFL QB fantasy draft, but whenever given the opportunity to start games he’s proven he can be a game manager and avoid critical mistakes.

The vertical passing game wasn’t there once again for the unit, but Bethel-Thompson finished 25-of-33 for 303 yards with the one touchdown pass to Wilder Jr. and just one interception on a shot to the end zone in the first quarter. 

Nothing gaudy in the numbers, but after the roller coaster of James Franklin’s performances in the first two weeks, things felt much more settled with McLeod running the show. 

  1. Speaking of the vertical passing game, what’s going on with Derel Walker? While he did have the crucial catch on the late drive, he was held to just 16 yards receiving to bring his season totals to just 139 yards on seven catches through the first three games. 

Llevi Noel and Armanti Edwards worked their butts off to consistently get open throughout this one, but they need more from their marquee free agent signing going forward. 

  1. It was a brutal night for kicker Drew Brown and the kick team. He missed a 33 yarder in the first half, the botched extra point following Rainey’s punt return TD as a result of a mistimed snap between long snapper Joe Spaziani and holder Jimmy Ralph and the kickoff out of bounds after the Argos tied it late gave the Lions strong starting field position. Those all loom large in the one point loss.

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