THE CANADIAN PRESS
WINNIPEG -- Ricky Ray was looking at the big picture after his Toronto Argonauts barely hung on for a 26-20 win over the Blue Bombers on Saturday.
The narrow victory secured a home playoff date for the Argos and stretched their lead atop the East Division to four points over the surging Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who lost to the Alouettes on Sunday.
"getting the win coming off of two losses, just keeping our lead in the East, that's what we want to do, is keep that separation (from Hamilton) and have that chance for first place,'' Ray said.
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Winnipeg, meanwhile, were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in front of 28,869 fans at Investors Group Field.
The Argos got touchdown catches from Andre Durie and Dontrelle Inman and Swayze Waters booted four field goals from 37, 23, 37 and 33 yards.
The Boatmen had a 23-3 lead at halftime before the offence sputtered.
Ray didn't put up his usual 300-plus yard game, completing 21-of-35 pass attempts for 246 yards and his second interception of the season.
"I thought (Ray) played pretty good in the first half, kind of like our offence,'' Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said.
"We just weren't able to get any sort of rhythm in the second half. It's on the unit, it's not just on Ricky.''
But even though it wasn't a masterpiece, the coach will take the win, which is the team's impressive seventh road victory (7-2) this season.
"It was ugly, but sometimes all it takes is one win to get you kind of rolling in the right direction,'' said Milanovich, whose team hosts the Bombers on Thursday.
"We need to get better next week, but we'll take it every time.''
Will Ford and Rory Kohlert scored TDs for Winnipeg and Sandro DeAngelis connected on a pair of field goals from 13 and 20 yards.
Bombers quarterback Max Hall had a career-best outing in his fifth straight and seventh overall start. He was 30-of-50 for 385 yards with one TD and one pick.
He led his teammates in a valiant effort at the end.
Winnipeg kept Toronto scoreless in the third quarter and upped their own points to 23-10 with Ford's one-yard TD run at 5:36 of the third.
Hall then put up a nine-play, 94-yard scoring drive that ended with Kohlert's 27-yard TD reception to cut Toronto's lead to 23-17 at 5:02 of the fourth quarter.
DeAngelis surprised the crowd by completing a successful onside kick and recovered the ball himself at Winnipeg's 50-yard line, but the Bombers ended up being forced to punt.
Mike Renaud booted a 40-yarder that Chad Owens took, but could only return to Toronto's 14-yard line.