For Argos D, rough and tough won
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
|Defensive end Ricky Foley of the Toronto Argonauts lifts the Grey Cup after his team's win Nov. 25, 2012. (STAN BEHAL/QMI AGENCY)
The smoke barely had cleared from the pre-game festivities at the Rogers Centre, but the real fireworks were about to begin.
The Calgary Stampeders, arguably the hottest team over the only two months that truly matter in the Canadian Football League, were about to find out what it was like to get it on the chin. Repeatedly.
No one was going to be immune from it and there was no place to hide among the 53,000-plus at the dome. They came to witness a Grey Cup party and instead were treated to a good old-fashioned beatdown, football the way many will tell you it should be played.
Simply put, on both sides of the ball the Stampeders were pounded into submission by the Argos on Sunday night and not just by the decisive final numbers on the scoreboard, a 35-22 Toronto win in the historic 100th Grey Cup.
Afterwards, Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn would tell reporters that they were acting like somebody died with the line of questioning. He’s right, there wasn’t a death, just a group assault and battery.
The Stampeders wouldn’t have to wait long to see what hit them. In fact, on their very first offensive play from scrimmage, the CFL’s leading rusher in the regular season, Jon Cornish, was swamped for a one-yard loss. It was to be the beginning of a long, dominant evening by the physical Argos defensive front.
Cornish ran for 57 yards on 15 carries, numbers far too modest given his credentials and role in the Stamps offence and even worse when you subtract the lone time he got his wheels underneath him and ran for 21 yards. The Argos’ conviction that they could take Cornish’s influence out of the game allowed them to dare Glenn to beat them, a mismatch if there ever was one.
It was almost too easy.
Though the Toronto defence will get much of the credit for the KO, there was a beatdown on the other side of the ball as well.
The more game MVP Chad Kackert pounded into and through the Stampeders defensive line, the softer the defence became. There were missed tackles and generous coverage as the Stamps looked more and more like a soft football team, one that was feeling the pain and not ready, willing or able to give it back. With the run established and an early lead, Argos quarterback Ricky Ray never had to stray from the game plan, never had to do anything special beyond sticking to the script.
On both sides, the more the Argos hit, the more the Stamps didn’t like it. And the more it looked like a game of men vs. boys.
As the defence piled on Cornish, most often with multiple players in on the tackle and almost always making the first hit before he could get anywhere near the secondary where he becomes most dangerous, the rest of the Calgary offence began to crumble.
Much of the talk leading up to kickoff — and well justified — was the work this season of Calgary offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson. Instead, Dickenson and his players were schooled by their previous defensive coordinator, Chris Jones, who now holds the same position with the Boatmen. Speaking of which, that $5,000 tampering fine Argos owner David Braley had to pay for swiping Jones from the Stamps may have been the best cash the good senator spent all year.
It’s not as if a great defence is something new for the Argos — the Rich Stubler squads were among the best in the league for close to a decade. But Jones’ approach is more attack-oriented and designed to inflict pain. At the same time, he’s not shy about dropping a defensive end such as Ricky Foley back into coverage to keep the opposition guessing.
It was all too much for Glenn and his supporting cast on Sunday. By the second half, receiver Maurice Price, who was such a big part of the Stamps offence in the previous two games but completely shut down by the Scullers, was seen giving Glenn the business on the Calgary sideline. The ability to take Price out of the game as well (other than the meaningless last-minute touchdown) was another triumph on the final stats line.
And on it went. With each hit and each Calgary two and out, the Argos defence swelled up with confidence and the crowd responded. Beaten — both physically and emotionally — the Stampeders went the other way.
There are days at any level of football where flash and supreme offensive skill can rule the day. But for those who appreciate the physical core of the game, there still exists the opportunity for the brand the Argos inflicted on the Stamps on Sunday night.