Coulda, shoulda, woulda for losing Stampeders in Grey Cup

Stamps' Jon Cornish looks out from the sidelines during the third quarter of the 100th Grey Cup in...

Stamps' Jon Cornish looks out from the sidelines during the third quarter of the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:25 PM ET

TORONTO - 1. Rush to judge

There were no doubt some Western constituents who felt Stampeders running back Jon Cornish was hard done by when he finished a distant second to the Argos' Chad Owens in Most Outstanding Player balloting this week.

But his performance against the Argos has been his one notable blight on a stellar campaign, both during the regular season and in Sunday night's 100th Grey Cup.

On his first five carries, Cornish had minus-four yards rushing as he was unable to penetrate the stellar and stout Argos defensive front. Once that was established -- and it was early -- the Argos were able to bring more heat on Stamps quarterback Kevin Glenn, who clearly wasn't prepared to handle it.

At halftime, Cornish had moved to a respectable 37 yards but subtract one carry for 21 and he had 16 yards on his other eight rushes.

That wasn't going to do it against an Argos team that had stopped him during the regular season. By late in the third quarter, Cornish looked extremely frustrated on his way to a modest night of 57 yards on 15 carries.

On the other side of the ball, of course, Argos running back Chad Kackert was having the night of his life, rushing for 133 yards on 20 carries on the way to being named the game's MOP.

2. What Price success?

In the Stamps' playoff run through the West division, receiver Maurice Price was the big-play man, becoming the first receiver in 14 years to have 100-yard plus receiving days in two post-season games leading to the title match.

Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn looked for him often and threw to him occasionally but Price wasn't right. One of those throws resulted in an interception and, as the game wore on, Price grew frustrated by his inability to get open and the inability of his quarterback to get him the ball.

Through the first half, not a catch. Through three quarters, zippo. His only contribution -- 50 minutes into the game -- was to draw a 43-yard phantom pass interference call that led to his team's fourth field goal of the game.

Price's addition to the Stampeders offence was supposed to be the variable that made them so tough to stop down the stretch of the season. Price finished the game with two catches for 17 yards, helped by a meaningless touchdown with 20 seconds left.

3. What's the plan?

Credit the Argos coaching staff for being completely ready for the Stamps in almost every way -- especially in the first half.

The defensive game plan as scripted by former Stampers defensive coordinator turned Argos DC Chris Jones couldn't be countered by Calgary's offensive coordinator, Dave Dickenson.

Jones, who refused requests to speak with the media in the days leading up to the Cup, did his talking through a clearly fired-up defensive unit that shut down Calgary's two biggest playmakers, Cornish and Glenn. All that creativity the Stamps were hoping/expecting to use on offence never got off the ground.

Even in the second half, when the Argos went dormant on offence, the Stampeders were unable to take advantage, scoring their lone touchdown of the game in the waning seconds. The Argos defensive game plan set the tone early and carried them right through to victory in the historic rendition of three-down football's biggest prize.

4. Give 'em a break

So much of what went wrong with the Stampeders was self-induced, as they were unable to match the Argos on either side of the ball. But they couldn't buy a break, either, it seemed.

When Larry Taylor returned a kick 105 yards for an apparent touchdown, the big orange flag at midfield was took away what little pulse remained in the Stamps.

The call -- and it was the correct one -- was a holding penalty on Keon Raymond, negating what would have been the most electrifying play of the game and keep the Argos lead at 27-9.

Toronto would give up a safety at the end of the third quarter to get the Stamps within two scores, but without a touchdown through the first 45 minutes of play, they were as good as done.

Kick returns were about the only thing the Stamps were doing effectively in the game, as they had several decent gains. Not being able to translate them into big points to rescue the inept offence hurt.

5. Make some noise

During practice this week, the Stamps pumped noise into the Rogers Centre to half-heartedly prepare for facing what was essentially a home team in the Grey Cup. But to hear players talk about it, the move was barely necessary.

They were road warriors, they believed, and having won the West final at a noisy B.C. dome the previous week, they felt there was little to no chance that the notoriously soft Toronto crowd would match that din.

Boy, were they in for a surprise.

In noise not heard since the place was called the SkyDome, the clearly partisan crowd did what it was supposed to do, especially early in the game. The aggressive and fired up Toronto defence responded to the noise and made their attack that much more vicious.

Tough to say how much, really, but the Stampeders offence, especially Glenn, was clearly rattled by it.

Toronto football fans tend to take a kicking from the rest of the country and not without reason. On Sunday night, they kicked back.

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