It’s Ricky Ray to the rescue, just as the Argos drew it up: Arthur
The Toronto Argonauts, on the best day of their new lives, were on the verge of some kind of humiliation. Anybody can lose a playoff game; it takes something else to lose a playoff game to a team that plays heroically inept football for about 51 minutes of a 60-minute game. Yes, this could have been a humiliation.
Because the Saskatchewan Roughriders had been awful, jeez. They took penalties. Do you have a stray penalty lying around the house, or in the garage? Saskatchewan will take it. Kevin Glenn turned into his worst playoff self, just in time. They switched quarterbacks four times before it stuck. Receiver Rob Bagg had a near-certain touchdown, but he had lost track of where he was standing, and one foot was out of bounds.
And because nothing is easy, with 2:37 left the Argonauts had the ball, down 21-18, and they were heading into the wind. It seems like this franchise is always facing the wind.
But they had Ricky Ray. No small thing, that.
“There have been times where I’ve been guilty — where you think you have to make this special play,” Ray said. “But we had plenty of time. We weren’t in a rush.”
They were in the spring. Jim Popp was hired as general manager and Marc Trestman as head coach on March 1, way too late to properly prepare for a season, but they made sure the 38-year-old Ray was on board. And, because of that, they weren’t in a rush.
The Argos were up 18-3 at halftime of the East final against Saskatchewan, who crossed over from the West. And then the Riders scored 18 points in a little over six minutes. The biggest Argos crowd at BMO Field — 24,929, only chunks of whom were wearing green — was finally in the building, and this was Toronto’s chance to show them something, and they were losing.
But they had Ricky, and more. A 34-yard kick return by Qudarius Ford, signed after trying out at an open camp in Florida, got them to the 42. The Argos hadn’t scored in the second half, and Ray wasn’t having much of a day. Oh, and the wind. He says he never thinks much about the wind, really. He’s seen it all before. His teammates hadn’t.