Mississauga’s Brandon Bridge comes off the bench as Riders rally past Argonauts:
There are all kinds of excuses to delve into following the Argonauts’ 27-24 loss to the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
But in the grand scheme of things, they amount to nothing to Argos head coach Marc Trestman, who has been around football long enough to know that excuses ring hollow in defeat, no matter how valid they may appear.
Trestman wasn’t blaming the officials, though a strong case can be made for it, and he wasn’t hiding behind any of the issues that plagued the Argos on this afternoon.
Trestman squarely pointed the finger inward.
“In the big picture, we did not play well enough offensively,” he said. “We could have scored more points and we didn’t. We didn’t play well defensively when we needed to stop them.
“Those were really the two key factors. Some were penalty-related and others were to our own way.”
Trestman, even without the benefit of watching game film, often cuts to the chase following a game, regardless if the Argos end up winning or losing.
Toronto’s defeat — sealed by an 18-yard Tyler Crapigna field goal with seven seconds remaining — ended a threegame winning streak and prevented the Double Blue from locking up a post-season berth.
The Argos lost because the offence settled for too many field goals in the opening half, then generated just one point — a punt single — when it had the wind in the third quarter.
The Argos lost because their defence applied no pressure on Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge, the 25-year-old Mississauga native who came on in relief of a struggling Kevin Glenn and the visitors trailing 13-3.
Too many penalties didn’t help, either.
The Argos weren’t clean and while the Riders weren’t exactly executing at a high level, they made enough plays to win.
Saskatchewan lacked discipline, but drew inspiration from Bridge and the kid would deliver.
The Riders produced some big plays, while the Argos were limited.
“We just couldn’t find the explosive play,’’ said Trestman. “We couldn’t find them in the wind because we were penalized. It wasn’t a big factor, but it was enough where we had to be careful.
“We just couldn’t find any explosions to really put us in a position to get some quick scores.”
Lirim Hajrullahu’s third field goal of the second quarter with 2:03 to go in the half gave the Argos a 16-3 lead. But then momentum began to swing. Using quick throws and running a hurry-up offence, Bridge used nine plays to go 75 yards, capping the drive with an eight-yard TD strike to Naaman Roosevelt with 12 seconds left.
Bridge threw zero picks, while Ray was intercepted once.
Trent Richardson, who was making his CFL debut, was a non-factor, but he didn’t have to be on this day with Bridge carving up Toronto’s defence, which was undermanned and at times overmatched.
What hurt the Argos was the lack of a pass rush.
Bridge has a rifle for an arm and he’ll complete balls on the run.
As he evolves, he’ll go deeper into his progression.
The loss of Marcus Ball and Bear Woods was noticeable, especially Ball’s absence and his ability to attack the backfield and drop into coverage.
Cleyon Laing, who starts at tackle, was also a late scratch.
Trestman would admit that Woods was cleared to play, but the head coach wanted his veteran middle linebacker to get that extra rest before Toronto next plays Saturday in Edmonton.
In the fourth quarter, the Argos lost starting halfback Brandon Harris.
The Argos suffered another loss with five minutes left in the game when, trailing 27417, running back James Wilder Jr. took a vicious shot to the head area. Wilder left under his own power and was coherent following the game.
Before he left, Wilder ran hard and the Argos did get inside Saskatchewan’s 30 yard line.
An objectionable conduct penalty to Willie Jefferson took the ball to the 19, where Ray hooked up with S.J. Green. The point after tied the game, 24-24, with 3:27 remaining.
As for the officiating, it didn’t affect the final outcome, but it did, again, become an issue.
One play that stood out saw Argos defensive back Alden Darby Jr., called for illegal contact while defending on Duron Carter near the Argos bench area with a minute and a half to go.
It put the Roughriders in field goal range for Crapigna to boot the winning points.
“It’s disappointing that contact away is called and we lost the play,” Trestman said.
“It really hurt us, but I’m not going to comment on the rules or the decision to do it, whether it was right or wrong that’s the official’s job.”