Defence sparks Argos to historic Grey Cup win

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish (9) is tackled by Toronto Argonauts Marcus Ball (6) and Kevin...

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish (9) is tackled by Toronto Argonauts Marcus Ball (6) and Kevin Huntley (94) during the first half of the 100th CFL Grey Cup championship football game in Toronto, November 25, 2012. (REUTERS)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

TORONTO - Given the stage and the history, given all that's unfolded this season and all that awaits, the Argos were more than deserving to appear in the CFL's 100th Grey Cup game.

Given the opposition, the Argos were more than deserving winners.

It was far from pretty, far from a classic, but the 100th renewal of anything is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, a time Argos fans and Toronto's fickle football market will now cherish, even by those who jumped on the bandwagon following last week's win in Montreal.

In football, defences win championships and offence put fans in the stands.

Toronto's offence wasn't great, but it was patient and clean -- outside of Ricky Ray's first throw -- and Calgary simply did not play to the calibre of the moment.

Clearly, the Stamps left their best in B.C. last week.

Clearly, the Argos peaked at the absolute right time, riding a defence that's been air tight in basically six straight quarters.

Toronto now celebrates and the Argos now wonder how this win will resonate in a business world where the Argos don't make any money.

Based on the crowd, the atmosphere, the emotion at Rogers Centre, CFL football sells, but it must be an event and the 100th Grey Cup was an event of historic proportions.

For the record, the Argos won 35-22, but it could have been more compelling.

On this night, history would prevail and the Argos became part of it because they deserved it and Calgary did not.

Ray, by his standards, was average.

Kevin Glenn was well below average and Chad Kackert was sublime, earning the game's most outstanding player honours, running and catching the football out of the backfield to produce 195 yards from scrimmage.

Had the Argos been able to take advantage of field position and make more plays down the field, the Stamps would have been blown out.

A combination of poor offence, bad decision-making and some careless penalties at the most inopportune time simply crushed the Stamps.

Credit Calgary's defence, though, as the unit yielded very little in the second half.

Had Calgary taken advantage of its red-zone opportunities, the game could have swung either way.

It all made for a rather odd game, which was somewhat close in the fourth quarter but lacking any real quality.

The game needed a game-changing moment and it arrived.

Fitting, it would feature 30 yards in penalties to Calgary on a punt return and a burst by Kackert, who would set up an Andre Durie touchdown reception, a score that gave Toronto a 34-14 lead.

Adriano Belli was sick to his stomach for most of the week, recovered by Saturday and was able to play in his home town for one last shot at a title.

Sadly, Belli was ejected in the third quarter when he alleged kicked a Stamps player, an ending that will taint his legacy. Belli likes to push the envelope, but to get tossed while playing on such a big stage was completely uncalled for -- and out of character for such a character guy.

Once again, the Argos benefitted from Calgary mistakes in the third quarter, once again keeping the Stamps from the end zone.

After three quarters, the Argos led 27-11.

One of the least discussed sub-plots leading up to Sunday involved Chris Jones, a defensive mastermind whose departure from Cowtown led to a tampering fine, essentially a slap in the wrist given the rules governing three-down football and the kind of money that's involved.

Jones' presence was clearly one of, if not, the most compelling storyline of the opening half, a 30-minute period dominated by the Argos, who would take a commanding 24-6 lead.

It was Jones' scheme that limited Cornish in both of Toronto's season-series wins, an attacking defence that knocked out Drew Tate, a defence that sparked the Argos.

It wasn't Ray's throws, it was Glenn's deficiencies, but rather Jones' defence and how punishing it would play, a downhill style that won the line of scrimmage and forced Calgary into trying to convert second and long scenarios.

Kackert's running would become the Argos' best option on offence.

But it was the defence that ruled and it would be Jones at the forefront, jumping for joy after Toronto stopped Calgary on a third and one just in front of Toronto's bench.

Kackert's running, his presence on check downs and one great throw to Dontrelle Inman by backup QB Jarious Jackson would all add up to Toronto's first-half offensive highlights.

Against a far more polished offence, it may not have contributed to a double-digit lead.

Then again, even if Calgary had been able to do anything on the ground or control the line, Jones would have made the necessary in-game adjustments.

On the other side of the field, the Stamps were guilty of over-coaching, borderline arrogance with some of the play calling that left many scratching their heads in disbelief.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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