Cobb's emergence good sign for 'Cats

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will spend the off week enjoying a well-deserved win, but to hear head coach Marcel Bellefeuille tell it, the best part of beating the Argos in their own building had nothing really to do with the Argos at all.

What Bellefeuille is going to enjoy when he goes through the game film, which he undoubtedly will repeatedly during the off week, is watching DeAndra’ Cobb jitterbugging his way through or often times running right through would-be Argo tacklers.

It’s the Cobb that Bellefeuille and the Tiger-Cats came to love and expect in his rookie season, but so far this season had been mostly missing in action.

Cobb finished the night with a game-high 99 yards rushing on 20 carries, none bigger than the six-yard romp into the end zone with 4:10 remaining in the game.

It was the only touchdown of the night to that point and would remain the only major in a game between two extremely stubborn and effective defences.

Ironically, it was set up on a rare special teams play that hasn’t gone in the Argos’ favour this year. Returning a kickoff, Argos rookie Ryan Christian got stripped of the ball by Jason Shivers at his own 21. Five plays later, Cobb was bowling his way into the end zone.

That touchdown also turned out to be the game-winning score, which might explain Bellefeuille’s instant elation every time Cobb’s name came up in the postgame talk with the media.

Cobb, who has seen his carries per game dwindle in light of his own struggles and the temptation to get the ball in the hands of special teams dynamo Marcus Thigpen, who also happens to be a running back and sees spot duty back there, didn’t just answer the challenge last night, he was easily the best offensive player in the game.

“That was our best night running the football by a long shot,” said a beaming Bellefeuille.

For the Tiger-Cats coach, the real sign that the Cobb of 2009 was back came on those second-and-short opportunities with the Tabbies needing three or four yards and Cobb finding a way to get them.

“The key was the times he made yardage on his own,” Bellefeuille said. “He’s in the backfield on second and three and those are the ones that kill you. First and 10 you have another shot, but second and three you sometimes need your back to do it by himself and he did that.”

On the six-yard touchdown run, Cobb was not to be denied as he got to the one more or less untouched, but then ran into an Argo defender who stood him straight up. Momentarily stalled, Cobb restarted the engine and forced his way in to put an exclamation mark on an already solid night.

But if Cobb were reason one for Bellefeuille’s happiness, reason two was the way his team seemed to steal a page out of the Argos’ playbook and pull one out at the end.

“Toronto has been the recipient of wins like these early in the season with games with fourth-quarter situations just like this,” he said.

“We just kind of played their game a little bit and came out on top.”

Part of that game plan was overcoming some tough periods in the game and persevering, much as the Argos have done for much of this season.

For the Ticats last night, that meant getting over the fact that Arland Bruce, clearly the most dangerous player on their team, wasn’t going to be allowed to reach third gear, let alone fourth.

The Argos made Bruce the main responsibility of Byron Parker and played off their one-time teammate all night, forcing the Ticats to settle for short dump passes that the rest of the Argos reacted to like bees to honey, swarming the league’s leading receiver as soon as a ball was headed his way.

But Bruce was not alone. Other than Cobb, just about every player on offence was held in check in this game.

All it means is the return match in two weeks at Ivor Wynne should be an even better battle than the one that played out last night.


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