November 11, 2023

Costabile: My favourite defensive moments of the Eastern Final

Christian Bender/

They say defence wins championships and in the Montreal Alouettes case, it sends them to one.

Saying the Alouettes defence was excellent in Saturday’s Eastern Final would be an understatement, as the unit forced eight turnovers in their win over the Toronto Argonauts.

As a lover of all things defence, I was thrilled sitting in the press box at BMO Field watching the defence dominate.

» Dominant Defence: Als punch ticket to GC110 with win over Argos
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» Through the Lens: Alouettes at Argonauts Eastern Final images

There were sacks, interceptions, pick-sixes, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, and more in this playoff game. From both teams, too. The Argonauts defence made some key plays as well, especially getting through Montreal’s OL and taking down Cody Fajardo (more on this in a moment).

Montreal has punched their ticket to the 110th Grey Cup and before we turn our attention that big game, here are my favourite defensive moments from the Eastern Final.



The Als defence set the tone early in the Eastern Final with Marc-Antoine Dequoy picking off Chad Kelly and returning it 101-yards for a touchdown. Toronto was driving down the field, with Kelly and his offence moving the chains, and were set up on the Alouettes nine-yard line.

Toronto had been good all season starting fast in games and outscoring their opponents in the first quarter. The Als knew this, head coach Jason Maas mentioned it in his post-game press conference that the team was aware just how quickly the Argos could get on the scoresheet in games.

That’s what made Dequoy’s pick-six a difference maker in this one, stalling the Argos before they could score on the drive and instead giving his team six.


Has there been a more impactful in-season signing in recent memory than that of Darnell Sankey and Shawn Lemon? Both were integral down the stretch of the regular season for the Alouettes, in the Eastern Semi-Final last weekend, and on Saturday night in the Eastern Final.

I realize that these are people and not moments, but like I said last week, this is my article and if I want to make people moments, I can.

Sankey had six tackles, an interception, and recovered a fumble that Lemon knocked out of Kelly’s hands. Lemon added a tackle in the team’s win as well.

Danny Maciocia deserves a pat on the back (or something better that he might actually want) for bringing those two to Montreal because they have both been fantastic additions to their defence.


The Toronto Argonauts defence did their best to keep their team in the game when the Alouettes started to pull away and getting after Cody Fajardo was a big part of that.

All season long, the Argos front had been great at getting through offensive lines to take down quarterbacks, they led the CFL in sacks with 68, and they continued that success on Saturday in front of their home crowd. Shawn Oakman had a trio of quarter back take downs, while his fellow defensive linemen Brandon Barlow and Folarin Orimolade had a pair apiece.

There’s no moral victories in playoff football, but defensive coordinator Corey Mace has to be happy with the performance from his defensive line.


The Alouettes had a three turnovers on downs against Toronto in the Eastern Final, but there was one that, to me, was a bit bigger than the others.

After Dequoy had kept the Argos off the score sheet earlier in the game, Tyrice Beverette did the same as the first quarter flipped to the second. Toronto was driving down the field once again and was knocking on the doorstep at the Montreal four-yard line. Chad Kelly stayed in on short yardage on third-and-two, instead of turning to backup quarterback Cameron Dukes, and Beverette made sure that Kelly could not plunge forward for the fresh set.

That turned the ball back to Fajardo and co. and  Toronto was held to no points inside the 10-yard line for the second time in the game.

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