Football

Argos will hold Bombers to 10 points: Eiben

Toronto Argonauts linebacker Kevin Eiben guaranteed Thursday that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won't score 10 points in Sunday's East Division final (CBC, 1 p.m. ET).

TorontoArgonautslinebacker Kevin Eiben guaranteed Thursday that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won't score 10 points against his team in Sunday's East Division final (CBC, 1 p.m. ET).

"We've dominated all season long, our defence is strong, we're feeling the momentum, we're ready to stop the run and get some pressure on [Blue Bombers pivot Kevin] Glenn and we're all excited to get after this game," Eiben said. "If they get over 10,it's going to be a longshot.

"I'll guarantee it, why not? What do I have to lose?"

Eiben's statements are certainly brash and will undoubtedly give the Bombers additional fodder leading up to the game Sunday.

However, the Argos defence certainly did a number on Winnipeg's offence the last time the two clubs met, keeping Glenn and company out of the end zone in a 16-8 victory on Oct. 27.

And while Winnipeg was minus tailback Charles Roberts for that game, the CFL's second-leading rusher this season (1,379 yards) managed just seven yards on six carries the last time he faced Toronto, which was in a 31-23 Argos victory on Sept. 23.

Glenn, the CFL's passing leader with 5,414 yards, was a bigger factor in that game, passing for 453 yards — 380 of which came in the second half, when he rallied the Bombers from a 28-1 deficit.

However, it's usually Roberts who makes Winnipeg's offence tick.

When he is consistently able to run for seven or eight yards on first down, that makes Winnipeg's aerial attack, which features 1,000-yard receivers Terrence Edwards, Derick Armstrong and Milt Stegall, that much more dangerous because defences must respect the run and can't send extra defenders to pressure Glenn.

Roberts returned to the Bombers lineup last week, running for 107 yards and a touchdown in Winnipeg's 24-22 victory over Montreal in last weekend's East Division semifinal.

"Roberts is certainly somebody to keep your eye on," said Argos nose tackle Adriano Belli. "We have got to shut him down and, if we can do that, then we have a great chance of winning.

"But they have also got a lot of great threats like Milt and Kevin Glenn, so we've got our hands full and just got to come to the table with all of our guns firing."

Winnipeg's offence was one of the CFL's most prolific this season, finishing second in total yards (380 per game), passing (294 per game) and tied for first in fewest interceptions (13).

Plus, the Bomber offensive line allowed a league-low 27 sacks.

Toronto counters with the CFL's top defence, one that was first in 14 of the league's 25 defensive categories, including fewest points allowed (15.9 per game), passing yards (230 per game), interceptions (25) and fewest TDs (25).

The Argos were also second overall in sacks (53) and fewest rushing yards allowed (99.6 per game).

Argos boosted by Belli

Last season, Toronto allowed a league-high 135 yards rushing per game, a big reason why the club actively pursued Belli in free agency.

Belli has been nothing short of sensational this season, consistently controlling the middle and often taking two or three blockers with him, leaving the ends with only one man to beat, and allowing the linebackers to flow freely to the ball and make tackles.

With Belli doing his thing inside, ends Jonathan Brown (13 sacks) and Riall Johnson (10 sacks) have consistently pressured the quarterback, while Eiben (91 tackles), veteran Mike O' Shea (77 tackles) and rookie Willie Pile (76 tackles) were the club's top three tacklers.

"Adriano has made a big impact," Eiben said. "He is just a big body and it takes three to block him.

"When he is taking up three, it just frees the linebackers to go and make plays. It is a lot easier when you don't have an O-lineman in your face right away."

Teammate Michael Fletcher agrees.

"With Adriano Belli in there, sometimes he is cancelling two and three gaps by himself," Fletcher said. "So when you've got a force like that in the middle, that allows little skinny guys like me to run in there to clean stuff up.

"And if they are coming to us, then he is making plays in the backfield."

But Belli, dubbed the Kissing Bandit for continually kissing teammates and strangers alike on the cheek, modestly shunted the personal accolades aside.

"Well, shoot, I think the main reason why we're good against the run or in all categories is because of our coaching staff and we've got a few coaches on the field in [safety Orlondo] Steinauer and Mike O'Shea.

"You play well defensively based on knowing what you're doing out there, based on reading different offences. I think I bring a stoutness out there on the line.

"But it's more of a schematic thing out there. As long as the defence is playing well, that's my justification."

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