Winnipeg (Argonauts.ca) - Saturday's win at Canad Inns could not be classified as a statement game that sent a message to the rest of the league, but it was a statement game for the Toronto Argonauts organization. A team that has made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. During that time (including this season), the Argos have seen four coaches patrol the sidelines and have started five different quarterbacks.
Argos' head coach Jim Barker was not here when the Boatmen combined for seven wins over two seasons in what can best be described as a ‘lean' time in the franchise's history. He can, however, appreciate that there are players here that went through those struggles and could not be more happy for the veterans that will finally have another chance to compete for a Grey Cup.
"They are a team that has won seven games in two years," Barker said following Saturday's win. "Willie Pile and some of these veterans that were here, and that have gone through those things, they deserve this."
Deserving may be the best way to describe how this team got to the place they are now. After getting out to a blazing 5-2-0 start, the Boatmen have struggled in the second half of the season and continued what many believe was the beginning of a great collapse.
Sure, there was a good chance that the playoffs still could have been realized even without a win the rest of the way should Edmonton and B.C. have struggled down the stretch as well, but the Argos earned their way in with a 27-8 victory and Barker believes that backing into the playoffs is simply not an option.
"The great thing was they earned their way in," said Barker. "They didn't wait for somebody else to lose. They earned their way in. They came out here into Winnipeg, which is a tough place to play, and beat a team that was playing for everything. Their whole season was on the line, so that was a big win for us."
ASU alum Cleo Lemon completed 17-of-29 pass attempts for 212 yards, one TD, & no interceptions in the win over Winnipeg. He has 3,139 combined yards in the 2010 season.
The Argos' playoff picture is a little more clear now. In essence, the Argos must win their final two games, both against Montreal, and combine that with two Hamilton losses to host the East Semi-Final at Rogers Centre. Should the Argos lose or both Toronto and Hamilton win outright, the East Semi will be hosted at Ivor Wynne Stadium.