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CFL Week 20 Report Card: Argos Clinch The East Division In Bizarre Fashion

Week 20 of the CFL season saw one of the year’s wildest finishes as the Argos clinched the East division with a 24-23 victory over the Alouettes in Montreal, on a missed field goal by Boris Bede at the final gun that turned into a single, which proved to be the difference.

Argos Win The East In Bizarre Fashion

The naysayers of the CFL’s East division and its teams will claim that Saturday’s Argos-Als finish was a fitting way for the division title to be decided. On a fluky play.

The game itself certainly had a unique script from the start to its chaotic climax.

Thanks to their top-ranked red zone defense, the Toronto Argonauts forced two goal-to-go turnovers by Montreal at the game’s outset. As a result, the Argos were able to stem the early tide in their favor. Toronto’s offence mounted a 109-yard scoring drive to take the game’s first lead at 7-0.

Despite their defence’s best efforts. Toronto was unable to put the Alouettes away. An opening second-half scoring drive and a defensive safety in the third quarter helped stake the Boatman a 16-6 lead going into the final quarter. However, the Alouettes battled down two scores and tied the game twice in the final frame. On the second occasion, Montreal drove the field’s length down seven, and a banged-up Trevor Harris found Eugene Lewis for a diving nine-yard touchdown catch with 37 seconds remaining.

With 34 seconds remaining, McLeod Bethel-Thompson led Toronto swiftly down the field to Montreal’s 41-yard line for the game’s final go-ahead score. Perhaps not in the way they had envisioned it. As Boris Bede missed the 48-yard field goal, Chandler Worthy caught the misfire with one foot out of bounds. If that wasn’t a bizarre enough ending for you, the Alouettes were flagged for a penalty on the final play with 13 players on the field. Therefore, A re-kick by Bede was unnecessary, and the faux pas by the Alouettes was rendered meaningless, with the play netting a single.

The Toronto Argonauts (11-6) have won seven of their last eight games. None were as dramatic as Saturday’s win in Montreal and the football club’s first victory at Molson since 2015. The Argos claim their second consecutive East Division title and now have the right to host the Eastern Final on November 13th at BMO Field.

The Montreal Alouettes (8-9) will travel to Toronto in Week 21 to play the Argos in their regular season finale. With no Eastern division title at stake, both teams could decide to treat the game as an exhibition and rest starters for the playoffs. The Als have a home date in the playoffs, where they will square off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Montreal could be making two trips to Toronto in the next three weeks. They had won six of their last eight contests to clinch a home playoff game.

Before we look ahead to the Argos’ strategy heading into the East Final, let’s look at how the Boatmen graded out in their East-clinching victory.

Argos Week 19 Report Card

Coaching Grade: C

Sometimes egregious decisions by a head coach can be washed over if their team wins. That’s exactly what could happen here, with the Argos beating Montreal to win the East. But Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie got away with one on Saturday. His decision to punt the football at Montreal’s 40-yard line, with his team up 16-6, backfired immensely. Rather than attempt a 47-yard field goal to go up by 13. Dinwiddie chose to chase fools’ gold in the hopes his punter could pin Montreal deep inside their own end and perhaps ultimately net a second safety in the game.

But Chandler Worthy returned the ill-advised 36-yard punt 41 yards, which completely changed the game’s momentum. Dinwiddie chased two points rather than attempting to score three. It was an unnecessary gamble.

The play-calling offensively was hit or miss. Defensively, Corey Mace’s unit stood tall for three quarters. But Toronto’s defensive unit did a lot of bending throughout the game. To the tune of over 500 yards. The defence came through early in clutch situations but started to falter late. To their credit, the Alouettes and a game Trevor Harris had figured out the Argos coverages and started succeeding easily by the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Grade: B minus

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No matter what you think of McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Toronto doesn’t win Saturday’s game in Montreal without him. As is usually the case, it wasn’t pretty. Thompson was off the mark on a few throws, and he also had a lousy interception into double coverage. But with the game on the line, MBT drove the Argos down the field for two consecutive go-ahead scores.

Running Back Grade: A+

A.J. Ouellette once again on Saturday proved how valuable he is to Toronto. He rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries and registered three receptions for 31 yards. But most of his best plays aren’t charted in the box score, like his pass blocking. AJ’s best play against Montreal was picking up an MBT bobbed snap and rushing for positive yards. It was a heads-up move that prevented a turnover and kept a scoring drive alive. It ultimately didn’t lead to points for the Argos, but it exemplified the type of player Alouette is.

Receiver Grade: B+


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The top two receiving performers for Toronto against Montreal were Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and DaVaris Daniels. Markeith Ambles also contributed with four catches and a major. Brandon Banks was back in the lineup, securing three catches. Speedy B and MBT continue to misfire on potential big plays, which is common this season.

It’s hard not to shine the brightest light on Canada’s own, Kurleigh Gittens, who went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Gittens was terrific against Montreal, delivering several clutch plays throughout.

Offensive Line Grade: B minus

There were some mental hiccups in this area. On a few occasions, the Argos line allowed free rushers that impacted throws. Including a game-changing sack allowed in Montreal territory. But overall, Toronto’s offensive line has done a better job the last two weeks, particularly in the run game. Ryan Hunter, who has seen plenty of action recently, made his first official CFL start and held reasonably well against Montreal’s formidable front.

Defensive Line Grade: B minus

There were some issues stopping Montreal’s run game. (108 yards). And some tired legs in the fourth quarter. But for the most part, Toronto’s defensive line held up their end of the bargain. The d-line produced four of the team’s five sacks, and Ali Fayad, JaGared Davis, Sam Acheampong, and Shawn Oakman all netted one a piece.

Linebacker Grade: B

Henoc Muamba was once again terrific for Toronto. That’s a weekly thing. He made impactful plays against his former team Montreal. He finished with nine tackles and one sack and nearly caused a game-sealing interception on Montreal’s final series.

Jonathan Jones, fresh off registering a crucial sack last week against Edmonton, had another game-changing play with his interception near the end zone. Shaq Richardson and the linebackers did have some issues covering Montreal’s backs in pass coverage. William Stanback and Walter Fletcher combined for seven receptions for 140 yards.

Secondary Grade: C

The Argos secondary has had better days this season. Toronto missed Chris Edwards greatly, and it was a rough day for defensive backs not named Jamal Peters. Tarvarus McFadden made some nice plays in coverage, but overall, the Als receivers got the best of him. He wasn’t alone. Anytime you allow over 400 yards passing, it’s not a great day at the office.


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Special Teams Grade: C+

A mixed bag overall for Toronto’s special teams. On the positive end, their All-Star-worthy punter John Haggerty had a fantastic game pinning the Alouettes’ offense in no man’s land on multiple occasions. And Javon Leake provided a great spark on returns. Including an excellent 50-yard kick return that kick-started Toronto’s second half.

However, Boris Bede had an awful game. He missed two crucial kicks from inside 50 yards. Toronto’s coverage units predictably struggled against a highly motivated Chandler Worthy. The former Argonaut had nearly 200 return yards in the game, springing long gains on kicks and punts.

Argos Overall Grade: B minus

Toronto took Montreal’s best shot and avoided a knockout late. The Argos came into Saturday with a margin for error, and the Alouettes did not. Montreal had to win. It wasn’t an easy spot for the Boatmen.

Toronto may see the Alouettes again when it counts in the playoffs. Or perhaps Hamilton will return to the scene of last year’s crime in the East Final. No matter at this moment, the Boatmen deserve credit for winning 11 games and getting to this point.

Winning on the road is never easy, and the Boatmen certainly played with fire again against the Alouettes. But they continually find ways to win games. Toronto, in 2022, has won games in Saskatchewan, Edmonton, and Montreal. Something the franchise hasn’t done in ages. The football club also hasn’t won their division in back-to-back seasons since 1996-1997.

The Argonauts have accomplished their mission of returning to where their season ended in 2021. At home, one step away from going to the Grey Cup.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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