November 25, 2012
Lack of balance cost Stampeders the 100th Grey Cup
By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency
CALGARY - When your best player is your kick returner, you’re likely in big trouble.
More to the point, when the two players the Calgary Stampeders counted on the most this season simply couldn’t get their acts together, the 100th Grey Cup was lost.
Kevin Glenn and Jon Cornish, the two men who spearheaded the unlikely 11-2 run that took the Stamps to the Grey Cup, were neutralized Sunday.
Stymied for the third time this year by former Stamps defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones Cornish failed to hit the type of holes he blasted through all year – stopped instead by an Argos defence that stacked the line all night long.
That left the offence squarely in the hands of Glenn who proved incapable without the aid of a running game.
Perhaps the defining moment of the 100th Grey Cup for Calgary came minutes into the proceedings, when Cornish mishandled a sloppy hand-off attempt from Glenn that hit the Rogers Centre turf and wound up in the arms of an Argos team that opened the scoring six plays later.
What stung much worse was the 105-yard kick return touchdown by Larry Taylor called back due to a Keon Raymond holding call.
That lack of discipline certainly played a big part in the Red & White’s 35-22 loss Sunday to the Argos.
But it was the inability to keep the Argos on their heels with a balanced attack that allowed the home team to stop the run and put the game in Glenn’s hands — a delicious proposition for an Argos team that deserved the win.
Outside of the animated player intros, absent was the swagger that made the Stamps the team to beat after Labour Day, gone was the discipline and gone was the favourable result the Stamps so often found a way to manufacture.
Most importantly, gone were Glenn and Cornish.
Chalk it up to a combination of nerves and the brilliant gameplan executed by the hosts, the Stamps dreams of a seventh Grey Cup title were dashed early.
Even though Ricky Ray is considered the best deep passer in the league, the Argos were content to pick away with five-yard dumps and screens so often turned into first downs.
The Stamps couldn’t do the same.
So the Argos ran down the clock and ran down the defence. The man who was cut by the Stamps years back and played second fiddle to Cornish all week — Chad Kackert — stole the show as game MVP.
Down early thanks also to an easy interception for a touchdown thrown by Glenn, the Stamps tried in vain to play comeback all day. To no avail. Cornish and Glenn were instrumental in putting the Stamps in a deep hole they couldn’t help get them out of.
For the last four months, the Stamps have found ways to win games whether they deserved to or not.
It all started following Cornish’s Week 5 faceplant that saw the Canadian running back rush for minus-1 yard, prompting him to throw his offensive line under the bus with questionable criticism. Yet somehow, the team rebounded positively, losing just two more games before Sunday’s blowout.
Unfazed by controversy or injuries, the Stamps just kept rolling despite playing with their backup pivot.
On Sunday, Glenn played like a backup, and Cornish had just 57 yards rushing and one catch.
Praised all year for his calming presence on the field, Glenn looked almost stunned. It all seemed a little overwhelming to him.
Finishing the afternoon 14-of-27 for 222 yards, he never found the endzone while throwing one painful pick.
Then again, without the support of a running game, the Argos could key on the backfield, forcing Glenn to try going long to no avail. Glenn had no touch.
It got to the point where the Stamps best hope offensively was drawing pass interference calls, which is no way to win football games.
It’s an unfortunate ending for two lads with fairy-tale seasons.
Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada
On Twitter: @ericfrancis