TORONTO: Honestly not much to talk about in this game. A classic sports tale of one team showing up and the other team unfortunately left in the dust. The Toronto Argonauts coming off their hot win at home last week to the Saskatchewan Roughriders fail to repeat that performance on a back to back home bender against the Calgary Stampeders. The final score, Calgary 34 Toronto 15.
First we can get the “oh but Calgary only have played 2 games this year so far” remarks out of the way. Yes, Calgary has only played two regular season games thus far keeping their team relatively fresh and uninjured. Remarks aside, Calgary showed up to play. A team on the road, in Toronto, facing the Argonauts after their exceptional performance against the 2013 Grey Cup champions played to win and they also did it without their star running back. Did they succeed? Yes. The Stamps defensive squad played flawless, their typical “give up yards until the goal line stand” defensive game was on point. I mean for crying out loud Ray went 29/36 for 296 passing yards! That is insane, those are superstar numbers, but they were for the most part short side line throws that had no chance to develop because of the Stamps D.
Ray, as said, was sharp all night. He looked like a veteran QB with poise waiting for options and making throws to the side lines for guaranteed gains. His only big conversion came at the beginning of the game with a 44 yard bomb to John Chiles. Ray on multiple occasions ran from the pocket, which was some of his own doing and some poor blocking by the Toronto O-line. Unfortunately we know what happens when Ray is put under pressure and forced to move around. Ray took 3 sacks, 1 from Buddy Jackson, 1 from Glenn Love and 1 from Juwan Simpson. Toronto’s running game, mainly obsolete for the entire match, but to be fair so was Calgary’s. This is do in combination to good D-line/Line backer play and the absence of star running backs. Andre Durie and Jon Cornish were both out due to injuries and neither Steele, Coombs, Walter or Sanders really took on a leadership role for their club. Matt Walter led the Stampeders with 51 rushing yards and an average of 4.6 yards per carry. While Jeremiah Johnson led the Argos with 57 yards and an average of 6.3 yards per carry.
Bo Levi Mitchell was exceptional for the Stampeders and at the end of the day was why they were able to garnish such a lead and come out with important victory. He was 16 for 24 with a total of 262 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. Mitchell was solid in the pocket and was unnerved throwing towards the middle of the field, were on more than one occasion his receivers were able to make his stats rise due to spectacular grabs. His biggest gain came from a connection to Anthony Parker that saw a 58 yard pass completion turn into a TD. Honourable mention goes to Marquay McDaniel, who also received and converted a 30 yard pass into another Stamps TD. This goes without saying the Stampeders WR core looked great. They were much faster than the Argos backfield, which showed in those incredible passing gains, and they were reliable to catch the long bombs not only for big gains but for go ahead scores aswell. Not to steal from the Stampeders offensive surge, but it has to be mentioned that the Argos took penalties. I mean the Argos had a total of 17 penalties for a combination of 154 yards given up. One of which gave up 33 yards to the Stampeders offense which in turn led to another touchdown. When a football team is giving up 17 penalties and making that many mistakes, it hurts. It was undisciplined and definitely a deciding factor in last night’s loss.
Special Teams, well Toronto must of felt special they had Swayze Waters kicking for them because without Waters the Argos possibly could have walked out with a much lower score or even a goose egg. Swayze must have caught the World Cup fever because he was on point hitting 5 out of his 6 field goal attempts contributing to all of Toronto’s 15 points for the game. Waters’ longest attempt made good was an impressive 57 yard bomb, proving his consistency and golden boot all game long. Calgary’s special teams was lackluster, except for one play which came at the cost of Waters’ only missed field goal attempt. Waters pulled his attempt wide right and Jock Sanders, from the back of the end zone, took the ball downfield to the Argos six-yard-line on a 121-yard return. The fifth longest kick return in Stampeders history.
In all the Argos penalty woes contribute to a landslide loss. Furthermore, one young QB upshows a seasoned veteran to take an important win on the road. Injured star running backs are uneasily replaced as both teams rushing was average at best. Finally some big plays make for a boring game somewhat at times enjoyable.
What the Argo’s need to change for their next matchup against Ottawa:
-Obviously maintain discipline and keep silly penalties at bay
-The running game has to be better especially with Durie out for six-weeks.
-The O-Line needs to provide Ray with more protection. Ray is a veteran who is used to throwing TD passes and TD passes mean more wins.
–Congrats to DB Byron Parker on his retirement from the CFL. The Argonauts sign Parker to a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the Double Blue Family.
–Big Shout Out Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for his Argonaut support. Mayor Ford was in attendance for last night’s game and was also at the home opener against Saskatchewan. Looks like Mayor Ford has a new addiction…..The Argonauts.