After a brief hiatus Scott’s Slant’s is back. Thank you to fellow Admirals Anthony Ciardulli and Peter T. Kourtis for filling in the last three games. It is good to be back especially when it is about reporting on yet another Argo victory 25-17 over the Alouettes in Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday. The Argonauts are on a 3 game winning streak (all on the road) – of course and now have a share of first place with Hamilton.
The game was another close, defensive road game the Argos are now accustomed to. Quarterback Trevor Harris who has to be in the discussion for CFL Most Outstanding Player drove the team in key drives when necessary to ensure victory. By his standards it was a calm day completing 16 of 21 passes for 182 yards, 2 touchdown passes and 1 interception. Tori Gurley was the leading receiver with only 4 catches for 73 yards and 1 TD. The running game made a rare appearance for Toronto with Brandon Whitaker going back to Montreal for the first time since joining the Argos. He rushed for 99 yards on 17 carries with a key TD late in the game to seal the win.
The defence was stout generating 3 sacks, 2 interceptions and 1 fumble. They forced starting QB Rakeem Cato from the game with an injury and harassed the second and third stringers enough that Montreal has now traded for Kevin Glenn of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Special teams struggled on this day with newcomer Anthony Alix producing a 32 yard punt average, and Justin Palardy good on only 1 of 3 field goal attempts.
This game did not have the excitement of the previous week’s win in Ottawa, but they are winning on the road and road football typically does not come with fireworks provided by the road team. The bottom line is they are winning and their 9-5 record is astounding given the schedule that just gets worse and worse with each passing week.
At the start of the season, I said that if the Argos went 5-5 in their first 10 games they would win the Grey Cup. This is because they were only scheduled to play 2 of their first 10 games at home. They actually went 6-4 in that stretch. My logic was that in the last 8 games, 6 were to be played at home in Rogers Centre. The team would just have to manage playing road football strong on defence and special teams and managing the game on offence. In those final 8 games I reasoned they could pin their ears back offensively and with aggressive defence and play more risk / reward football with the home field advantage.
As the original schedule was it was the worst schedule in professional football history, losing one home game due to the Pan Am Games, playing their first 5 games on the road (never before done) and as mentioned 8 of their first 10 on the road. Well the team’s schedule is now an absolute joke. They have lost another 2 home games since and should the Blue Jays win the World Series in 7 games and host a victory celebration the Argonauts may not play another home game until the playoffs should they be able to host a playoff game.
The resiliency of this team may be unmatched in CFL history. They don’t even care where they play anymore. They took on an us vs. the world mentality long ago. The most road wins in CFL history is held by the 1960 Winnipeg Blue Bombers who won all 8 of their road games that season. The Argonauts have won 7 road games this season and could tie that mark with a win this Saturday against Calgary being played at Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Field. With 4 games remaining we will see what happens.
Records are made to be broken, what really matters? Championships. Can this team win the Grey Cup in 2015? Are they good enough? The answer is yes. Alot of work needs to be put in, and improvement needs to occur, but the trends are positive and they are as mentally tough as any team and as well coached as any team in the league. They have ballers in every phase of the game – Offence, Defence and Special Teams. I don’t care where they play now. They are fun to watch and they are taking us on a heck of a ride. Have fun.