OTTAWA — With just six games remaining the Ottawa Redblacks need to be near perfect if they hope to salvage their season.
Ottawa (3-9-0) hosts the Toronto Argonauts (7-5-0) Saturday night and will need to be much better than they were two weeks ago when they lost 24-19 to the Argos.
The Redblacks, who sit last in the CFL's East Division, were forced to play catch-up for most of the game after a dreadful start. Ottawa trailed 13-6 at the half and 24-9 after three quarters.
“You’ve got to be able to complete passes and you’ve got to be able to get the crowd into it because a crowd loves big plays and they love seeing the ball move,” said Ottawa starting QB Nick Arbuckle. “You know, going two and out on our first two drives last week is not how you get your crowd behind it.”
Toronto comes into the game riding a three-game win streak.
Getting the crowd into games has been a struggle all season long for Ottawa, who have yet to win at home this season. The club has dropped 20 of its last 21 games at TD Place.
“We’re frustrated that we haven’t won at home,” said Ottawa head coach Paul LaPolice. “When you don’t win at home that hurts your opportunities to go where you want to go. We have great fans and we need to win at home.”
Losing at home has been difficult on players, but they remain confident they can turn things around.
“I feel it coming,” said Ottawa linebacker Avery Williams. “I feel it coming from the team, from the organization, the fans and the city. Everything is pushing us to that level where we can win at home.”
That being said Williams and the Redblacks defensive corps will have the challenge of stopping Argos receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. who had a career-high 161 yards on eight receptions, including one for a touchdown two weeks ago.
The division-leading Argos are undefeated when Gittens Jr. has a touchdown reception.
Arbuckle has had two weeks to think about the game and knows the Argos defence will be looking to make life difficult.
"You definitely have to adjust and you have to have answers for whatever they're going to give you especially early on in the game,” said Arbuckle.
Arbuckle knows the game plan will be different from two weeks ago and he’ll need to find answers early on for whatever comes his way.
Saturday’s game will wrap-up the season series against the Argos with each team having won one game.
Ottawa then heads to B.C. to play the Lions and will wrap up the season with a pair of home-and-home series against Montreal and Hamilton.
Making the playoffs will be a challenge, but it’s not impossible and it needs to start with a win Saturday.
“Our team is finally starting to understand how good we are as a unit,” said Williams. “If we play all aspects of the game to our best ability then we’re going to come out with a 'W.'”
The Redblacks will be without DB Sherrod Baltimore and OL Darius Ciraco, while the Argos will be without FB Joe Carbone.
TORONTO (7-5-0) VS. OTTAWA (3-9-0)
REST IS NOT A WEAPON: Since 2019 Ottawa is just 1-7 off bye weeks, while Toronto is 3-4.
LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT: After going 11-for-11, Argos kicker Boris Bede has made just 5 of his last 8 field goal attempts.
GOING FOR 10: Toronto’s DaVaris Daniels will be looking to make it 10 straight games with at least four receptions. He has a current 49-game reception streak.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 23, 2022
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press