MAC'S MAIN MAN
"Mac's Main Man" comes from the Toronto Argonauts-Saskatchewan RoughRiders matchup, the one game this past weekend where both teams had something to play for. Toronto was trying to lock up second place in the CFL East Division and Saskatchewan was fighting for playoff positioning.
The Argonauts showed heart and soul in a dogfight of a 31-26 road victory. Quarterback Ricky Ray and the Toronto offence have garnered splashy headlines. However, the meat and potatoes of this win came from the defence, which has been inconsistent all year but came together in an effort where they bent, but would not break.
Leadership for this overall effort came from linebacker Brandon Isaac, who rise like a defensive phoenix. Simply put, the third-year import was pure chaos for the Green and White. Isaac led all players with eight (crushing) tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Applying constant pressure to Roughriders pivot Darian Durant, Isaac motivated his crew for a combined four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
The hype that surrounded the Double Blue's defence coming into 2012 is looking more legit -- and at exactly the right time. We all know that the CFL's post-season means cold weather and that the passing game can quite often be negated.
The running game, along with a hard-nosed, stingy defence, is what wins championships in this league. Argos running back Chad Kackert has shown that he has the potential to be a clutch rusher, and if Brandon Isaac can continue to perform in such a dominant fashion, it could complete the puzzle and make Toronto a darkhorse threat come November.
-- Andy McNamara
When the Argos traded for Ricky Ray in the off-season, their main objectives was to make the playoffs and play in the 100th Grey Cup at Toronto. On Saturday, we saw them complete half of that mission -- locking up a home playoff game.
You don't win in the CFL without a capable quarterback and the Argos -- and more importantly, their fans -- were forced to watch a laundry list of sub-par signal callers try to lead the Double Blue back to the promised land. However, with Ray in the fold, they have the guy that has the talent and track record to erase the memories of the past few seasons.
Ray's performance in Regina was something that Argos fans haven't seen in a while, but they would love for it to happen more often. For the second straight week, he threw for over 300 yards, going 24 of 30 with four touchdowns.
Since returning from injury, Ray has looked like a more confident quarterback, completing 64 per cent of his passes for a combined total of 688 yards and eight touchdowns with only one interception.
The Argos offence had been subject to criticism in the early part of the season, when it was moving the ball up and down the field, but failing to close drives off with major scores. All too often, Toronto had to settle for field goals. In the last two games, Argos kicker Swayze Waters has only appeared three times in field-goal kicking opportunities. The killer instinct is now there.
The Argos' official Twitter account tweeted out "TURNOVER! Playoff Football is back in #Toronto! RETWEET your pride #Argos nation!" after the game-clinching turnover. The tweet was retweeted more than 75 times by a playoff-starved Argos fan base.
The dream may be becoming a reality for the Argos.
Ray is playing his best football to date, the defence is, once again, making plays at the right time and the players seem to believe they can go out and compete with any team in the league.
The Argos may very well be that team that no one wants to see in the post-season.
-- Carlan Gay
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