Jekyll and Hyde Affair Shows Argonauts Inconsistency

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OTTAWA, ON - JULY 08: Toronto Argonauts slotback S.J. Green (19) runs with the football after receiving a pass during Canadian Football League action between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa RedBlacks on July 8, 2017 at TD Place at Lansdowne Park, in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Saturday’s game between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks was a Jekyll and Hyde affair, a see-saw battle that ended with a slim Toronto victory after two faltering Ottawa drives in the final two minutes. But despite the win, the Argonauts inconsistency is the most important concern on the Toronto sidelines.

Jekyll and Hyde Affair Shows Argonauts Inconsistency

See-saw Battle in Ottawa

The first half was all Redblacks, while the second half belonged to the Argonauts. Ottawa got off to a quick start by scoring a touchdown and two point conversion on their second possession, a score that was heavily assisted by Toronto’s sloppy play and red zone penalties. Toronto weren’t able to put much together, trailing 11-0 after 15 minutes. There was a bit of offense, but they never got close to making a strike, with a third down turnover and a missed field goal to show for their efforts.

After 30 minutes, it was 12-1. At this point, most other teams would have pulled their starting QB for the second man in line, and started looking at the depth charts in other positions. However, with Marc Trestman at the help, that was not on the agenda.

Second Half Turnaround

The turnaround began right away. Even though Lirim Hajrullahu had to punt the ball two more times, lightning struck when Ottawa centre Jon Gott snapped the ball too high for Harris, and a mad scramble ensued with several players on both sides swiping for the ball, pushing it back 35 yards right into Ottawa’s end zone. Defensive back Cassius Vaughn finally got a hold of it and got the major for the Argos. Ray then stepped up to the mark five minutes later and threw a pass to SJ Green, who broke a few tackles and found the end zone for his first touchdown as an Argonaut.

The fourth quarter saw the teams trade scoring plays and share three lead changes. The deciding play came near the three minute warning, when Greg Ellingson made a 30-yard catch for Ottawa’s third TD, but the team failed their convert attempt when Drew Tate botched the hold and juggled the ball, not allowing Brett Maher to attempt a kick. Ottawa got a chance to win the game in the dying seconds, but Maher’s 59 yard attempt came well short and wide. Comeback complete for Toronto.

It has to be said though that the second and fourth quarters were pretty even sided, and both teams finished the day with good numbers in both offensive and defensive categories. Trevor Harris threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns, while Ricky Ray threw for 366 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including his 300th career touchdown. Toronto’s SJ Green notched his first career double century, catching for 210 receiving yards on 10 receptions, and Greg Ellingson countered with 170 receiving yards, also on 10 catches. Victor Butler and Jeff Finley brought down Harris five times, while Zach Evans and Avery Ellis each sacked Ray once.

In terms of scoring, it was simple maths. Each team scored a single point in the 2nd quarter, and 13 in the 4th. Ottawa scored 11 in the 1st, while Toronto scored 12 in the 3rd. Despite its arsenal of weapons at Ray’s disposal, though, Toronto was on the edge of losing a very tight battle. Their lack of consistency almost cost them a crucial away win.

Consistency Needs to Come

When all’s said and done, Marc Trestman must be pleased with how his team recovered from a lackluster first half, yet left wondering why their second half play couldn’t have shown itself in the first. Both Ray and Green will be able to look at their career marker nights with a certain cheeriness knowing they came with a win. But the team needs to ask itself at the end of the day: can we play our game for the full 60 minutes next week?

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