To say the defences came to play this past week in the CFL would be an understatement and defensive coordinators across the country were grinning. In total, the eight teams combined for 24 quarterback sacks, eight forced fumbles and 16 interceptions. Adam Bighill was named Defensive Player of the Week, topping a list of performances that all could have been worthy.
Bighill was one of a host of Lions that simply dominated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He led the way with 10 tackles, two fumble recoveries, a quarterback sack and a touchdown. Once Bighill set the tone on the game’s first play from scrimmage, there was no turning back.
Dante Marsh took back an 80-yard pick-six while Solomon Elimimian nabbed an interception of his own to accompany five tackles. Meanwhile, Cord Parks scooped up two fumble recoveries, one of which he took back for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the other side of the field, linebacker Henoc Muamba accumulated 11 total tackles (8 defensive and 3 special teams) for the Bombers.
Saturday night was the Pat Watkins show in Edmonton. A suffocating second half by the Argonauts not only shutout the Eskimos in the final two quarters but forced four turnovers, helping Zach Collaros and the Toronto offence engineer yet another fourth quarter comeback.
Watkins had two interceptions to help put points on the board but it was his play as a pass-rusher that was the most impressive. With Edmonton operating on second-and-long late in the fourth quarter, Argos defensive coordinator Chris Jones called for a rare and risky corner blitz which sent Watkins gunning for Kerry Joseph as the halfback covered the corner. Watkins laid a licking on Joseph, forcing a fumble and then helped recover the ball to set the Argos up inside the five yard line. The Boatmen punched it in a play later to take their first lead of the game.
The linebackers did their part as well. Robert McCune put the hammer down to the tune of eight tackles and two quarterback sacks while Marcus Ball added four tackles and a game-preserving interception touchdown with 40 seconds left in the contest.
On the other side, it was the Eskimos defence that had their way in the first half. Rush end Marcus Howard had four tackles but led all defenders across the league with three quarterback sacks.
In Guelph, Demonte Bolden and Jamar Wall teamed up to shut down a potent Hamilton Tiger-Cats attack. Bolden had five tackles and a sack while Wall led his club with six tackles and two interceptions for a secondary that put a total of five picks on the board in the win.
It is one thing to be efficient on defence and it is another to make highlight-reel plays that are usually reserved for the offence. Both Jerald Brown and Chip Cox did just that Sunday afternoon versus the Roughriders.
Brown made his case for catch of the year from the defensive halfback spot, stabbing a Darian Durant pass with one hand in the air and coming down with the pick. As for Cox, he fought his way through traffic to pull down an interception to seal a win as the Riders made one last effort to steal the game.