Robert McCune and the Argos' defence made their mark on Nik Lewis and the Stamps Saturday.It wasn't the most-hyped Alberta to Toronto move of the offseason, but the Argonauts' acquisition of former Stampeders defensive coordinator Chris Jones has paid some major dividends so far, and that was the case in Toronto's dominant 22-14 victory against Jones' old team Saturday night in Calgary. The Argonauts' offence had its issues moving the ball and didn't record a touchdown until the fourth quarter, but the defence was rock-solid and held the Stampeders to six points until the final 30 seconds of the game. Jones and his unit deserve a lot of credit for that, and if they can consistently deliver those kinds of performances, Toronto may be just fine without Cory Boyd.
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This wasn't the most entertaining game in the world for fans of offensive football, and a large part of that was thanks to the remarkable performance the Argonauts' defence turned in. They dominated in all facets of the game, controlling the line of scrimmage, bringing big hits in the linebacking corps and generally defending receivers well down the field. Ronald Flemons had a particularly strong game with a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked pass, while Marcus Ball had a team-high eight tackles and added another sack, Robert McCune added six tackles and David Lee forced another fumble. One of the most impressive marks of the defensive dominance was how Toronto shut down Calgary running back Jon Cornish, who ran for 160 yards last week against Hamilton. On Saturday night, Cornish was held to 43 yards on 12 carries for a measly average of 3.58 yards per attempt.
The passing defence was impressive too, and they played a substantial role in Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn's struggles. Glenn wasn't too bad on the night, completing 22 of 33 passes (66.7 per cent) for 292 yards and a touchdown with an interception, but the defence sacked him twice and always seemed to get in his face precisely at the right time in the red zone, forcing several turnovers and causing the Stampeders to settle for field goals on other drives. There were other issues too, including several costly and unnecessary penalties, the inexperience of the offensive line (thanks to injuries) and poor decisions from Glenn, but this was largely thanks to Toronto's defensive showing.
[Photos: All the action from Week 8 in the CFL]
What's notable is that this game was a huge step up from what the Argonauts' defence had done to this point. Their average of 25.2 points allowed per game heading into Saturday wasn't bad, as it was fourth-best in the league (and by far the best in the East Division), but their defence had been more solid than spectacular before this game. Against his old team, though, Jones brought the fireworks, and the defence finally consistently looked like the dominant unit it's shown glimpses of. A lot of the buzz about this Toronto team this year was thanks to their reworked offence with quarterback Ricky Ray, and that's certainly been part of their success thus far. However, strong defence can be just as crucial to CFL victories, and if Jones and company can keep up what they showed Saturday, it may be a very good year for the Double Blue.
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