Hamilton – Every loss hurts, but this one will hurt more. Toronto put up a great fight against their arch rival but just fell short with a 49 – 36 loss. These two teams don’t like each other and it showed. The game was filled with so much trash talking and after the whistle pushing and shoving I’m surprised the referees who call everything it seems at times let much of that go.
As I wrote in my preview Toronto needed to get off to a good start. But they didn’t. Hamilton marched down the field on their opening drive capped by a 2-yard run from back-up quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. To their credit the Double Blue responded with their own scoring drive which ended with a 42 yard field goal by Lirim Hajrullahu.
It was after that when the game turned in the Argonauts favour. Hamilton’s next four possessions would go a Collaros fumble, interception, a Chad Owens fumble and a punt block. After all that Toronto had what appeared at the time a commanding 27 – 7 lead midway through the second quarter. But as the old saying goes, “No Lead is Safe in the CFL” and that definitely proved to be the case on this night.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 5, 2016
Coming out at halftime with a 30 – 17 lead Toronto was over matched in the second half. Turnovers, penalties, some more phantom than others, would prove costly for the Argos and the team would be outscored 32 – 6. Offensively in the second half Ricky was under pressure the entire time. Neither sack nor rushed throw more significant than the one that led to an interception in the Hamilton end zone. Having to release early to avoid a sack Rays throw sailed over a wide open Andre Durie and into the arms of Courtney Stephens. Ray appeared to be injured on the play as well holding his ribs. He continued the rest of the game but looked uncomfortable in doing so.
Another big factor in this game is that Toronto’s defence was completely picked apart. While Toronto was able to pressure quarterback Zach Collaros in the first half all that disappeared in the second. Frankly it wasn’t a great night for the defensive line. If there name was called it was because they were being penalized for an off side. The line backing core was non-existent too. Given the game that Hamilton running back C.J. Gable, game was having I’m not sure why the Argos didn’t have more bodies up front. Gable would end the game on 12 carries for 135 yards. Of course if they did do that than things may have been even worse for the Argo secondary. With regulars out of the lineup Toronto’s last line of defence is young and inexperienced. And even though they battled Collaros simply had too much time and too many options at his disposal. Not sure how they fix that next game but there is definitely a lot of film to go over.
If you did want to simplify the entire game in only a handful of plays than 2 comes to mind. An absolute phantom pass interference call on A.J. Jefferson late in the 3rd quarter that would later lead to a Hamilton touchdown would be one. That play angers me because 1) why didn’t the Argos challenge that? Yes a call against them would cost them a time out and maybe they couldn’t get a look at it because Hamilton, to their credit, quickly got up to the line of scrimmage and ran another play. But that’s a scenario where maybe you just gotta go with the players’ word, in this case A.J. Jefferson and throw the challenge flag. But beyond Toronto, how could the referees have called that? And for someone who has been slightly confused as to what that eye in the sky officials job duty is, that call needed to be overturned. If you were confused about what constitutes pass interference at the beginning of the year has anything that has gone on since helped. This was a tough physical game filled with emotion and the right call on that play would have been a no-call.
Another sad play was the no catch on a Ricky Ray pass to Diontae Spencer. What would have been 2nd and 4 turned into 2nd and 10 and on the very next play a pressured Ricky Ray throws a wobbly jump ball while he was hit that lead to an Emmanuel Davis interception for a touchdown. Again similar to my opinion on the phantom pass interference call this was even more obvious. Spencer without a doubt caught the ball. It was horrible officiating on an easy call. So easy it needed to be challenged. At that point Toronto had not only lost all momentum but were trailing by 3. They needed to hold on to the football and keep the drive going. Unfortunately on the very next play the opposite happened.
“It’s pretty sombre,” Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said of his team’s mood. “You know when you’re playing them that no lead is safe.
“They gave everything they had and again it didn’t go our way in the fourth quarter. That’s tough to swallow for professional guys that put everything, their heart and soul, into it.”
What should hurt most about this game is that Toronto has now lost the season series versus Hamilton irrelevant of what happens with now next week’s more than ever must win game. At 4 and 6 The Argos need to fix things quickly and get a little help along the way. Up next is a rematch at BMO against Hamilton followed by another road game on a short week against the red hot Winnipeg Blue Bombers. How the Argos do in those tow match ups will determine the magnitude and significance of their next game. A road game in Ottawa with the season series on the line.
But for now it’s about a loss opportunity in Hamilton. Again, this loss will sting, but hopefully the team doesn’t just forget about it, but rather learn from it.
By: Anthony Ciardulli
Follow Anthony on twitter @comicanthony.