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Argos and Stamps feature high-octane offences desperate for big play

If receiver Nik Lewis is double-covered on Sunday, it means one of his Calgary Stampeder teammates is more likely to be open. Either way, he’s a big threat to the Toronto Argonauts.

Todd Korol/REUTERS

The game-day battle with nerves will be over in a matter of hours, now the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders can finally concentrate on playing the 100th Grey Cup.

Given the recent performances of both teams, their visualization will surely involve creating the kind of big play - offensive or defensive - that has carried the teams this far.

Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn and Toronto counterpart Ricky Ray have shown a propensity for going downfield in the playoffs, it was evident from listening to coaches and players on both teams this week that they firmly believe they have the ability to turn the game on a long pass or a devastating run.

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This is a game in which the defences should be stretched to the limit.

The Stamps have made a specialty this season of striking at their opponents with long gains, whether on the ground or in the air.

In last week's West Final against the B.C. Lions, Glenn connected three times on passes of 40 or more yards.

The Argos did likewise against the Montreal Alouettes in the East Final, coming back from 10 points down thanks to a 70-yard catch-and-run play from Ray to receiver Chad Owens setting up a major and a 49-yard Chad Kackert touchdown run.

The Stampeders were tied for the league lead in touchdowns scored this past season, and along with the B.C. Lions were the league's best rushing team.

A lot of Toronto's defensive preoccupations will be occupied with stopping Calgary running back Jon Cornish, but the Stamps' receiving corps presents a stern test as well.

Wideout Maurice Price, one of the CFL's fastest players, is coming off back-to-back 117-yard receiving performances in which he scored a pair of long touchdowns.

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Romby Bryant caught a 68-yard touchdown pass to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Semi-Final, Marquay McDaniel had a 68-yarder in the West Final against B.C.

Calgary receiver Nik Lewis led the Stamps with 10 receiving touchdowns this season, third in the league, and after two quiet performances in the playoffs to this point is due for a big game.

Cornish set a new mark for Canadian running backs in winning the rushing title, and will be looking to avenge a couple of indifferent performances in the regular-season meetings with Toronto, whose defence singled him out for rough treatment.

As ever with Cornish, it's likely going to be a case of feast or famine - he rushed for more than 150 yards on four occasions this season, but also had four games where had fewer than 50.

He is coming off consecutive 100-yard playoff games.

Owens is the linchpin of the Toronto offence, having set new CFL marks for all-purpose yards this year en route to taking CFL most outstanding player honours.

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In the East Final, Owens set the table from the opening kickoff, which he returned close to midfield, and continued stinging the Als defence on crossing routes and with his punt and kick returns.

Yet the speedy, gritty Kackert - who at five-foot-eight is able to suddenly materialize in front of ponderous defensive linemen - is also a key cog in the machine.

As always, Ray will be the man Calgary - and their sack leader Charleston Hughes - are looking to disrupt.

He threw for 399 yards in the East Final and is just now coming to terms with rookie head coach Scott Milanovich's high-octane offensive scheme, which is patterned on that of his onetime mentor, Montreal coach Marc Trestman.

Grey Cup games have a way of becoming instant classics, there no reason why the 100th edition would be any different.

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