TORONTO—The Toronto Argonauts shut down the Calgary Stampeders en route to a 35–22 win in the 100th Grey Cup in front of 53,208 at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
It was defensive dominance by the Argos, who prevented their opponents from scoring a touchdown until their backup quarterback came in very late in the fourth quarter. The Argos defence allowed their offence the time to settle in and take charge when needed.
The Argonauts got strong performances from running back Chad Kackert and the CFL’s most outstanding player, Chad Owens, while quarterback Ricky Ray wasn’t called upon to produce anything spectacular.
Kackert was named the game’s most valuable player with 195 total yards on 28 touches.
The game was essentially decided after the first half with the Argos taking advantage of three Stamps turnovers and a couple of costly penalties.
“It’s the number one factor in winning games—turnover margin,” Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said in his press conference after the game.
The two opposing quarterbacks, Ray and Kevin Glenn, have a combined 22 years of CFL experience, although Glenn was playing his first Grey Cup while Ray has already played in three. This important difference manifested itself notably in the first half.
“We had such a special team this year,” Ray said.
“They [the defence] played awesome. They dominated. They gave us that score too, which was huge.”
“We didn’t have to play with a lot of pressure on us offensively, we had the lead, pretty much the whole game,” Ray said.
Ray saw his first pass result in an interception, but the Stampeders were unable to get any points off the turnover.
The Argonauts, however, didn’t let their opponents off quite so easily when Jon Cornish fumbled on Calgary’s second possession. Toronto benefited from a 15-yard personal foul penalty to set up a 12-yard run by Kackert to the 5-yard line.
From there, Ray found Owens for an easy 5-yard touchdown pass.
In contrast to Glenn not having a good outing, the Argos defence was stepping up and making plays.
Defensive back Pacino Horne snagged a low Glenn pass and then ran it back 25 yards for the “pick-6,” giving the Argos a 14–3 lead in the second quarter.
Calgary’s biggest weapon on offence, running back, and most outstanding player runner-up, Cornish had been quiet. In fact, the Argos, during the regular season, had limited him to an average of 41 yards rushing over two games—the least Cornish gained against any CFL team.
Turnovers and lack of discipline were killing the Stamps. And the big plays were going the way of the Argos.
The Argos stopped that Stamps on a critical 3rd-and-1, and later linebacker Ejiro Kuale stuffed the Stamps when they had second down on the Toronto 5-yard line, forcing Calgary to kick another field goal.
Then with less than two minutes to go, Ray hooked up with Dontrelle Inman for a 1-yard TD score after the receiver had made a brilliant catch to get the ball down to the 1-yard line.
Kackert was tearing up the Calgary run defence to the tune of 60 yards after the first half, while Cornish only had 37.
The Argos were worth every bit of their 24–6 halftime lead. They had forced three turnovers out of the Stampeders and limited them to five first downs.
The third quarter saw the teams trade field goals before a holding penalty nullified Larry Taylor’s 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the second time a Stampeders penalty had annulled a strong Taylor runback.
The Stampeders needed a huge play and thought they had it, but indiscipline reared its ugly head once again. Instead, Toronto’s defence held firm and Calgary had to punt the ball away yet again.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Argos led 27–11 after punter Noel Prefontaine conceded a safety.
The Stampeders benefited from a dubious 40-yard pass interference call on the Argonauts’ Ahmad Carroll. But, in the red zone, the Stampeders were unable to convert on second down and had to settle for their fourth field goal of the game.
Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns was not good enough; the Argos stretched the lead to 34–14 in the fourth quarter. There was no coming back for the Stampeders.
“That will be the underlying theme of this game; we didn’t put the ball in the endzone when we had the opportunity,” said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel.
The Argonauts brought Toronto their first major championship from the sports of football, soccer, baseball, basketball, and hockey since the last Argos Grey Cup win in 2004. It was an unlikely run for a team that finished the regular season 9–9 but caught fire in the playoffs.
“It’s been one unbelievable journey and we made it,” Kackert said.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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