Ryan Dinwiddie has at least one silver lining to draw from.
On a night where his team was without star running back Andrew Harris, the offence failed to complement a great effort by the defence as the Toronto Argonauts lost 22-19 to the Calgary Stampeders, Saturday at BMO Field.
Fans voiced their impatience with the team throughout the final two quarters after yet another disappointing second half in which the Argos (4-5) allowed the Stamps (6-3) to comeback from a 19-10 deficit.
“I understand the frustration,” said Dinwiddie, afterwards. “They were seeing some bad football out there.”
Losing by three with 2:20 to go in the fourth quarter, he was faced by a third and five and elected to punt instead of giving his offence a chance to get a first down a keep the drive alive.
The Argos coach displayed a lot of trust in his defence and not unjustifiably so with his secondary having a stellar game highlighted by three interceptions by defensive backs DaShaun Amos, Tarvarus McFadden, and Maurice Carnell.
They found a way to get the ball back with 53 seconds left in the game, but the offence wasn’t able to capitalize on it as a strip sack by Calgary’s defence ended the game.
“I felt our defence was playing well and that we could get the ball back, we just unfortunately just didn’t get it done,” said Dinwiddie, of the punt decision,
After allowing an 80-yard completion in the first play of the game the secondary locked in for the rest of the contest, allowing zero passing touchdowns to add to their three interceptions.
Calgary’s offence went into the game as first in the league in turnovers and second in turnover differential, showing a remarkable knack for protecting the football.
“We don’t pay attention in how good they were in not turning the ball over, we just knew how good we were in turning the ball over,” said Amos. “It’s a lot of positivity to build off of.”
The Argonauts defence allowed only one first down in the first quarter, pressuring Bo Levi Mitchell into throwing two picks in the first half of play after throwing only four interceptions in the past eight games combined, and allowing only one touchdown, a 29-yard run by running back Peyton Logan.
Mitchell’s struggles – 9 of 16, 149 yards, two interceptions – led Dave Dickenson to replace his starting quarterback with backup Jake Maier.
He also threw an interception and should have had another one on a near catch by Amos, but managed to lead a couple of strong scoring drives to win the game for the Stamps, finishing 14 of 18 for 156 yards and a pick.
On offence, the Argos stalled in the second half, with quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson finishing the game 27 of 43 for 276 yards and one interception while also being sacked five times.
A.J. Ouellette – who replaced the injured Harris – had six runs for 18 yards, but also caught seven of eight targets for 92 yards.
Bethel-Thompson’s interception with 2:37 left in the third quarter – a pick six by Elle Bouka – was a huge momentum shift in the game, cutting the lead to 19-16 after a failed 2-point attempt.
The fans at BMO began to lose their patience with the Argos starting QB, booing him as the offence went two-and-out after the interception.
One bright spot on the offensive side of the ball was backup quarterback Chad Kelly, who converted two third downs on designated runs and scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter, finishing the game with four runs for 28 yards and a score.
Both kickers were perfect, with Boris Bede finishing 4-of-4 and Rene Paredes 3-of-3.
Argos dominated Time of Possession in the first half 19:49 to 10:11, but couldn’t keep the same pace in the second half, losing 17:48 to 12:12.