Argos' D seals it

DEAN MCNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

There was no time to rest for the Toronto Argonauts defence last night as they held off a furious last-minute rush by the Calgary Stampeders to protect a 23-16 victory that all but guarantees them a playoff spot.

It was the sixth time in seven games the defence has come up big for the Argos, but this time they had help from the special teams and some late-game heroics by running back Ricky Williams to increase their record to 8-6.

And they did it before the biggest football crowd of the season -- 32,410 -- at the Rogers Centre.

Coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons acknowledged the effort of the defence, saying it has played a key in the all six wins in the past seven games that has vaulted the Argos into playoff contention.

"We had situations to convert early in the game and we didn't convert (offensively)," Clemons said. "And the defence did what they do in the red zone, and that is not give up touchdowns."

In fact, through the whole first half the Argo defence kept the potent combination of Stampeder quarterback Henry Burris and star running back Joffrey Reynolds off the scoreboard forcing kicker Sandro DeAngelis into three field goals from 38, 32 and 38 yards.

When Damon Allen looked like he was not going to be able to get the offence on track in the second half -- managing only two field goals from Noel Prefontaine in the first half -- the defence took matters into their own hands.

Well, at least in the hands of Eric England, who snagged an errant Burris pass and ran 80 yards for his first CFL touchdown.

"I scored two when I was with Carolina (in the NFL)," England said. "But this was my first one up here."

That put the Argos up 16-9, a lead the defence would not relinquish.

Williams, on loan from the Miami Dolphins after failing a third drug test, finally gave fans something to cheer for when he scored on an eight-yard run to bring the score to 23-9.

Williams, who broke his arm in a game against Saskatchewan in July, was injured on the TD, but team officials would only say they would evaluate the situation today.

Calgary did put together an impressive fourth quarter drive that ended with a 10-yard Burris pass to Ken-Yon Rambo for a touchdown narrowing the margin to 23-16.

"The defence kept the game in a manageable place," Clemons said. "And then they went out and closed it out with a huge, huge play."

That play came after the Stampeders got the ball back recovering an onside kick.

With the clock running down the Argos defence knocked away a sure touchdown pass, again to Rambo, to preserve the victory.


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