TORONTO -- Another near-perfect performance from Ricky Ray ensured the Toronto Argonauts impressive start to the CFL season stayed on course. The veteran quarterback threw three touchdowns and tied a club record for consecutive completions Sunday as the red-hot Argonauts won their fourth straight, 36-33 over the Edmonton Eskimos. Ray, who finished the night 30-of-35 for 413 yards, including TD passes to Jason Barnes, John Chiles and Chad Owens against his former team, says his comfort level is a big reason why the numbers have been so staggering. "It feels like youre just seeing everything and trusting everything," said Ray, who has thrown for 851 yards and eight touchdowns in Torontos last three victories. "Theres no second guessing or double clutching or worrying about anything. Youre just seeing it and throwing it. Thats a good feeling." Rays 17 straight completions in the first half tied the Argonauts club record set by Mike Rae in 1975 in a game against the Montreal Alouettes. "When you look at each play individually you feel like you should be able to complete every one," Ray added. "Were just in a good stretch right now. Theres going to be some games where Im not going to complete this many passes." Ray came over to Toronto in a lopsided trade with Edmonton prior to last season and was instrumental in helping the Argonauts with the 100th Grey Cup on home turf at Rogers Centre. "Ive always thought Ricky was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league," Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said. "Hes in a system that fits him now with playmakers at receiver and at tailback and now hes a year into it. "At this point hes just hot. Hes always going to be good but at this point hes just red-hot and things are taking off for him." Despite the victory, Milanovich was not happy with his teams performance in the fourth quarter as the Eskimos cut the Toronto lead late. "Those guys are not satisfied and clearly we are not happy but Ill never apologize for a win," he said. "They played well. We give them credit but we had a chance to put that thing away and we didnt do it." Backup quarterback Zach Collaros also threw a TD for Toronto (5-2), which is on its longest winning streak since 2007 and leads the East Division by four points over the second place Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Eskimos (1-6), meanwhile, sit last in the West and have lost their last three games by a combined nine points. "The loss is very disappointing. Devastating actually," Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed said. "Its a lot about details. A lot of things were not doing well ... Im not doing well. "I have to look at myself in the mirror as to how things have turned out." Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly was 35-of-46 for 511 yards and three touchdowns as the Eskimos lost their fifth consecutive game. "People can talk about the numbers but they should have been higher," Reilly said. "I missed a couple of throws. Drives stalled. We didnt play the entire four quarters." Grant Shaw added four field goals for Edmonton, which was without injured star linebacker and reigning CFL defensive player of the year J.C. Sherritt. "If I throw for 100 yards and win Im happy," Reilly said. "It doesnt matter how much it is if we lose." Leading 17-16 at the half, Toronto stopped Edmonton on its first drive of the third quarter and stretched its advantage to eight when Ray hit a wide open Chiles with a 31-yard touchdown pass. "Its crazy. (Rays) accuracy is just amazing," said Chiles, who finished with five catches for 135 yards. "The way hes spreading the ball and getting it to all the different receivers, I think hes doing a great job." Edmonton conceded a safety for a 26-16 Argonauts lead with just under five minutes to go in the quarter and Toronto followed that up with an efficient four-play, 64-yard drive that was capped off by a six-yard TD pass from Ray to Owens that made the score 33-16. Shaw missed a 28-yard field goal for a single point with just over ten minutes to go in the fourth before Reilly connected with Shamawd Chambers on a 22-yard touchdown pass with about five minutes left on the clock to make it 33-23. After Edmontons two-point conversion failed, the Eskimos got the ball back and Shaw kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut Torontos lead to seven with two minutes to play. The Argonauts took the ball on their 35 and Ray found Chiles on a 49-yard pass play to set up Noel Prefontaines 26-yard field goal, his second of the night, that effectively killed off Edmontons hopes. Reilly then hooked up with Fred Stamps, who finished with six catches for 172 yards, with one second left on the clock. Trailing the Eskimos 9-7 in the second quarter, Ray hit Barnes on an eight-yard touchdown pass. Edmonton retook the lead at 16-14 with an impressive six-play, 105-yard drive that spanned just 1:58 and included completions by Reilly of 38 and 45 yards to Stamps and culminated in a five-yard strike to Cary Koch. The see-saw quarter swung back in favour of the Argonauts with a 20-yard late field goal by Prefontaine to make the score 17-16 at the half. Toronto could have had more but Ray missed a wide open Dontrelle Inman in the end zone to snap his consecutive completions streak at 17. Toronto took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on third-down gamble when Collaros, who often enters the game on short yardage plays, faked a pitch before dumping the ball off to Alexander Robinson. He rumbled 45 yards for his second touchdown of the season. Edmonton got the score to 7-6 on a pair of Shaw field goals from 16 and 38 yards before the Eskimos kicker gave his team a two-point edge with his third boot of the night, this time from 40 yards early in the second quarter. Notes: Owens finished with nine catches for 102 yards. ... Edmonton won both regular season meetings between the teams last season. The Argonauts beat the Eskimos in the East semifinal. ... Chiles has three TDs in his last two games. ... Sherritt recently underwent thumb surgery and is out indefinitely. ... Torontos next game is Friday against the Calgary Stampeders (5-2) at Rogers Centre in a rematch of last seasons Grey Cup. ... Edmonton welcomes the West Division-leading Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-1) to Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. ... The last time Toronto won four straight was in 2007 when the Argonauts were victorious in their final seven games of the season. ... Attendance at Rogers Centre was 19,656. Matt Williams Jersey
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.C. - Nick Merkley and Damon Severson each had a goal and two assists as the Kelowna Rockets downed the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds 6-3 on Saturday in Western Hockey League playoff action.FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Coach Mike Smith cant seem to pull the Atlanta Falcons from their two-year rut on the road.The Falcons havent done much right since losing last years opener at New Orleans, dropping 10 of 11 road games as they prepare to visit Tampa Bay this weekend.Smith hopes to reverse the trend by finishing games better. A fourth-quarter meltdown as the home team two weeks ago in London gave the Falcons a seven-game losing streak away from the Georgia Dome.These guys have worked extremely hard, Smith said Wednesday. During the week, they are doing what we ask them to do, but its not transferring to 60 minutes in a football game.The last-second loss to the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium has been hard for the team to shake.Atlanta, which has been outscored 75-28 in the fourth quarter of its seven-game skid, blew a 21-0 halftime lead to Detroit.The debacle set off another round of speculation that Smith could get fired — even before the season ends — but quarterback Matt Ryan insists that Smith has not lost the players attention.You cant worry about all the things being said outside this building, Ryan said. When things are not going your way and youre not winning games, there is going to be criticism. We understand that.Before Smith was hired in January 2008, Atlanta was known mostly for losing. The franchise had never achieved consecutive winning records since its debut in 1966, but Smith pulled off the feat four times, leading the Falcons to a pair of NFC South titles and four playoff appearances.On the road, Smiths first five teams went 22-18, not including post-season losses at Arizona and the New York Giants, but its been a struggle ever since.We havent finished games on the road like we need to, Smith said.dddddddddddd Id say thats probably the thing that stands out over the span youre talking about.These kinds of problems are nothing new for running back Steven Jackson, who, as the NFLs leading active rusher, has never played on a team that finished the season above .500.After getting drafted by St. Louis in the first round of 2004, Jackson played for Mike Martz, Scott Linehan, Steve Spagnuolo, Jeff Fisher and interim coaches Joe Vitt and Jim Haslett. Jacksons teams have gone combined 50-117-1, but hes hoping the Falcons play well enough for Smith keep his job.Unfortunately, Im a veteran at the bad situations, so Ive just got to encourage my teammates and the coaching staff that the 53 men in this locker room are going to get us out of this hole, Jackson said. Weve just got to continue to focus on that.Atlantas offence has been undermined by injuries on the line — four starters have been lost for the season — and Ryan cant get in consistent rhythm with his receivers. Jackson and his three backups — Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman — have been inconsistent.The defence is one of the NFLs worst, ranking last in total yards, last in sacks, fifth-worst in scoring and eighth-worst against the run.A trip to Tampa Bay (1-7) could be just what the Falcons (2-6) need as they try to draw confidence from Week 3, when they beat the Buccaneers 56-14.But Ryan believes the team needs to stay focused on the present, not looking back and looking ahead.You cant do it all in one week, Ryan said. Weve got to focus on this week, but I like the guys that we have, coaching staff and players included.___Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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