Argos clinch playoffs thanks to team synchronicity

Toronto ties 1996 club record for best season start with win over Als

Argos offensive line, line up against Montreal at BMO Field.
Argos offensive line including (l to r) Dejon Allen, Peter Nicastro, Darius Ciraco, Ryan Hunter, Isiah Cage, hasn't given up a sack in five games. They spurred another win for Toronto Argonauts on Saturday. (Carter Smith/ Toronto Observer)  

Toronto Argonauts secured their spot in the CFL playoffs with a win over the Montreal Alouettes 39-10 on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.

The defending champions are now 10-1, undefeated at home, and tied with the 1996 Argos squad for the club’s best season start thanks to an MVP calibre season and 278 yards on the day from quarterback Chad Kelly.

Following the game, he had nothing but praise for his teammates on their hunger for success.

“Obviously, we have a lot of great players,” said Kelly in the locker room. “I just think that everybody’s hungry each and every day when they come to work, and I just think it was a good team effort today.”

The atmosphere of the game echoed that of a playoff tilt with multiple scuffles and shoving matches after whistles.

The former Ole Miss QB felt his team was prepared for the hostility. 

“At the end of the day, guys were still hungry,” said Kelly. “We’re physical each and every snap, that’s what it takes. It takes a mentality to want to out-will the other team, and that’s what happened.”

Argos receiver Tommy Nield was showered with praise post match by his teammates after coming up with 84 yards on six catches.

The Guelph native was nothing but thankful for his teammates in the locker room.

“Shout out to all my teammates, all the other receivers,” said Nield, while being playfully interviewed with plastic bottles from other Argos. “We stick together, play as a family, and that’s what makes this group special.”

The rest of the team was equally as excited for the former McMaster player to be surrounded by reporters post match as he was.

“We have fun around here, and these guys are my brothers,” said Nield, who has worked back from injury. “That’s why this group is so special and it makes coming to work so much fun every day.”

The WR led the team in receptions and yards in his first game of the 2023 season.

Fellow receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. reiterated the same team-first sentiment post game.

“We play for each other and pretty much that’s what it is,” said Gittens Jr. in the locker room. “We’ve got unselfish guys on the receiving core and that’s what makes us who we are.

“We don’t really care who gets the love every day, especially in this offence. You do your part and then the players are just going to be there.”

The Laurier alum finished the game with 63 yards on four receptions.

Running Back AJ Ouellette led the team in rushing with two touchdowns and 105 yards on 19 carries.

Featuring one of the best offensive lines in the CFL, the Argos did not allow a sack for the fifth-straight game.

OL Peter Nicastro was proud of his team following another game without a sack.

“We go into every game not wanting to give up a sack,” said Nicastro post game. “It’s just a testament of how close we are as a group.

“We got to get Chad clean, and we know that when we give him time that it’s hard to stop.”

The 24-year-old Nicastro signed a three-year contract extension with the team on Sept. 5.

Six days earlier his quarterback had signed a three-year extension of his own that will make him the highest-paid player in the league next season.

“Chad made it pretty easy for me to stay here,” said Nicastro. “And being 10-1 now, I mean, there’s no reason for me to leave, and getting the win today makes it an even better week for us.”

The Argos offensive line allowed one sack during the game but it was ultimately called back after an illegal hands to the face was called on the play.

NOTES — Montreal drops to 6-6 while Toronto now boasts a perfect 6-0 in the division … Alouettes star rookie receiver Austin Mack was disqualified from the game following a rough-play call … The Als fumbled three times in the loss and allowed a total of four turnovers … The two teams will play each other again on Friday in Montreal … Argos will clinch first place in the East with a win.

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Posted: Sep 9 2023 7:40 pm
Filed under: CFL Football Sports