Stamps dominate Argos in battle of the punters and nine other thoughts

Photo courtesy: CFL

In what was one of the least entertaining games of the season for anyone that isn’t an obsessive fan of quality punting, the Calgary Stampeders kept pace with the B.C. Lions in their quest for a home playoff game by beating the East Division-leading Toronto Argonauts 29-2.

Here’s what I saw from high in Section I at McMahon:

Punts, punts, and more punts

Nothing gives you a clearer picture of how this game went than the fact that the two teams combined for 20 punts. 20!

The Stampeders’ Cody Grace was called into action nine times. His Argo counterpart, John Haggerty, kicked the ball away 11 times.

This might have been alright considering the Stamps and Argos both feature returners with a lot of potential to take one to the house in Peyton Logan and Brandon Banks respectively. However, those 20 punts only garnered 181 combined return yards for just over a nine-yard average. Not exactly electrifying.

While I do marvel at what Grace can do with the ball on his foot, no one needs to see it nine times.

But Ryan, they scored almost 30 points!

I know, and that’s the weird thing about the Stampeders this season. Calgary switched starting quarterbacks because of the perception of inadequate play at the position and is still the highest-scoring team in the CFL.

Ka’Deem Carey had a touchdown late in the fourth quarter after a 55-yard drive to put this game to bed but until that point, the team had only one other sustained drive that went 70 yards for a Tommy Stevens rushing score to make it 14-2.

The Stamps’ first touchdown was a 23-yard drive after a Jameer Thurman interception. Cameron Judge also generated a fourth-quarter pick-six.

The league’s highest-scoring team managed to put up another high score, while also looking disjointed and out of sorts. Not the best news for other CFL clubs.

Oddball stat

Researching the previous point led me to an interesting stat. The Stampeders have given up no points on offence or special teams, the only team in the CFL that can say that.

They also lead the league in defensive and special teams points with 58 total, just a few more than Toronto but far ahead of the rest of the league.

Those points are comprised of safeties, defensive and return touchdowns. Calgary has scored a ton and allowed zero.

Rouges and field goals are counted as offensive points, and Calgary allowed one of each against Toronto.

Smothering defence

Calgary has spent much of this season moving people around the defensive backfield due to injury but the group they have right now is particularly stingy with giving up passing yardage. For the second straight week, they held the opposing QB to under 200 yards.

Don’t forget that coming into the game, McLeod Bethel-Thompson was leading the CFL in total passing yards and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. The Stampeders held him to 19-of-38 for 194 yards and two interceptions.

Things weren’t any better for Chad Kelly, who came in for the Argos and promptly went one-of-five for seven yards and an interception.

Calgary’s defence generated four turnovers to extend their league-best ratio to +20, and only let the Argos cross the 40-yard line for one single snap, a missed field goal by Boris Bede.

Judge lays down the law

Cameron Judge could have been a distraction to this team following a one-game suspension for punching Lucky Whitehead, but instead returned to the lineup to lead the team in tackles with six and made a house call by taking an interception 71 yards to the endzone in the fourth quarter.

Judge has been everything and more to the Stampeders this season and even had head coach Dave Dickenson calling for him to get attention for some year-end awards.

“It was good to get Cam back. We did well without him last week as well, but I think you are seeing that he’s got to be up there to get recognized not only by our team, but potentially by the league as well,” Dickenson said. “He made a huge play when we needed him.”

Henry goes over 1,000 yards

Malik Henry became the latest Stampeders’ receiver to go over 1,000 yards in a season, making four catches for 26 yards before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

Henry has been a welcome surprise this season, as he was looked at as the third receiving option behind Reggie Begelton and Kamar Jorden coming into the year but has been the most consistent pass catcher when in the lineup.

The injury may not end up being that serious as after the game, Stampeders’ quarterback Jake Maier mentioned needing to get him the ball earlier in games and more often adding, “He is one of the best players on our team, if not the best, especially when you get the ball in his hands.”

Henry is currently fifth in overall receiving yards despite having missed two games already this season due to injury.

Ka’Deem Carey does Ka’Deem Carey things

When you look at what Ka’Deem Carey is doing versus the other output from running backs this season, the gap is substantial!

The Stampeders running back has nine rushing touchdowns, no other running back has more than five. A few QB sneak artists do have more but the league lead is 11.

Carey has 11 rushes of more than 20 yards, no one else has more than four. In runs of between 10-20 yards, Carey has 33 while the next candidates have no more than 21.

That this team has three starting running backs with Carey, Logan and current practice roster resident Dedrick Mills will be a boon as the weather gets colder.

Bye weeks and deadlines

It’s fitting that the Stampeders are on a bye week during the trade deadline given the historical lack of movement at this time of year from Stamps’ GM John Hufnagel.

The biggest jewel in Huf’s trade bag is Bo Levi Mitchell, but I’ve already told you why I don’t think that happens before the deadline.

That’s not to say it can’t or won’t, but it is extremely unlikely the Stampeders make any moves this week.

With the last bye week of the Stamps season scheduled this week, they have the time to get healthy before a playoff push and also continue to try and chase down the Lions, who have the Bombers still on their schedule twice.

Last but not least

The Stampeders have clinched a playoff berth, but they haven’t yet secured me a win in my bet with 3DownNation editor John Hodge. Upon review of chat logs, I had set the line on Stampeder wins this season at +10.5 with Hodge taking the under.

Any win by the Stampeders over the next three games will result in a $100 donation to charity and a beet to be purchased during Grey Cup weekend in Regina. Thanks autocorrect!

I’m looking forward to telling you all about the charity that Hodge will be supporting soon!

Ryan Ballantine is a lifelong Stamps fan and host of the Horsemen Radio Podcast. He has been covering the team since 2008.