Toronto Argonauts: Matt Black unsung hero in victory over Edmonton

A helmet of the Toronto Argonauts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
A helmet of the Toronto Argonauts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Argonauts would survive a late push by the Edmonton Eskimos winning 34-26 thanks to a late sack by Matt Black.

It took them five tries but the Toronto Argonauts finally earned a victory over a team from the West division but it did not come easy.

With a 31-15 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly was taking advantage of breakdowns in the Argos secondary.

However, Matt Black was not about to let his team come out on the losing end of another close game. After making a crucial tackle on a big passing play that could have led to a touchdown, the 32-year-old would follow that up with a sack on third down to end the Eskimos comeback effort.

The hit did not go unnoticed with some saying it was a hit to the head but Black did not believe so.

“I thought it was clear from my perspective, I was aiming for his chest,” said nine-year veteran after the game. “I’m not trying to hurt anybody, I know he’s got a family and a kid, so that’s not what I’m into.”

It is not often that a defensive player has a free shot at a quarterback like Black did especially at that moment in the game.

“It’s hard to explain, you have to be in a moment to feel it,” said the Toronto native. “You get those every so often and you got to make the play when it comes your way. The guys did their job and it opened it for me.”

The veteran defensive back did not have to think hard when asked if he had a similar play happen in his career.

“I had another one in college that was a good one,” said Black who played for Saginaw Valley. “It was a corner blitz where they rolled out the other way and I caught him from the back side and in a similar way the quarterback didn’t see it coming.”

More from Tip of the Tower

Back in the beginning August, the Argos announced that they were releasing Black. A week later, he was back with the team after injuries started to pile up.

Right out of the gate, Black was slotted in as the starting safety after he had not seen any game action and is seeing himself being rewarded each game.

“I never doubted myself and credit to my family and friends who stuck by me through the whole that whole situation,” “It was definitely a good moment to have a good moment and help this team win like I wanted to do from day one.”

His biggest fan after the game? Head coach Marc Trestman who credits Black for how he has responded to a tough situation.

I couldn’t be prouder of Matt from start to finish. The day we let him go he handled it with class and dignity. He bought the guys breakfast the morning he got cut and he’s come back here and lead the way with specials and other facets of our football team.”

Argos look to continue find consistency going forward

While this victory gives Toronto something to build off of, there have been many opportunities for this team to take control of the East but they have struggled to remain consistent.

“I think that has been our biggest achilles heal,” said offensive tackle Chris  Van Zeyl.

“We have to make sure that when we get a game like this that we build on it because it is a Western opponent and we have fared well against the East but it doesn’t mean anything when the game roles around.”

The offensive line was a noticeable difference in the team’s victory, not because of the way it protected quarterback Ricky Ray, but the effectiveness of the running game.

Rookie running back James Wilder Jr. had a game to remember with over 190 yards rushing including a 76-yard touchdown run. It was his blockers that helped set up the big play which was a pleasant sight considering how the Argos have struggled to establish their running game.

“I was right beside him when he ran through, it was pretty incredible,” said Van Zeyl on the big touchdown run. “As an offensive lineman, there is no better feeling when you are an offensive lineman and you got a guy run right beside and nobody is there to catch him.”

There will be a lot of question marks on the Argos on both sides of the ball with players coming back from injuries.

They will take on the struggling Montreal Alouettes at home, then travel to Hamilton as they look to equal their record and reclaim first place in the East from Ottawa.

Next: Wilder Jr. explodes in win over the Eskimos

Luckily for Toronto, they have the tiebreaker against the Redblacks but with a schedule that finishes off with four games against the West, it will take an all around effort to get it done.