MONTREAL - Rush end Anwar Stewart said the Montreal Alouettes' defence didn't let itself think about shutting out the Toronto Argonauts, even as time wound down on a 25-0 victory on Friday night.
The Alouettes sacked quarterbacks Kerry Joseph and Cody Pickett a total of seven times, held tailback Jamal Robertson to 20 yards on six carries and gave up only 126 yards in net offence to the struggling Argonauts attack, but still the zero didn't sink in until it was over.
"We just wanted to play hard," Stewart said after the Alouettes posted their first shutout in 33 years. "We knew that if we came out after Joseph and stopped the run we had a chance to do good things.
"We didn't really think about the goose-egg, but you know what? We'll take it. It's a great bounce-back from last week and we're proud of what we did. Last week we didn't touch (Eskimos quarterback) Ricky Ray and this week, we really got at them and showed what we can do."
The 5-1 Alouettes were coming off their only loss of the season last week in Edmonton and made up for it in spades.
Defensive tackle Eric Wilson scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard catch from backup quarterback Adrian McPherson and tailback Avon Cobourne ran in two scores in the thorough whipping of the East Division-rival Argonauts, who are now 2-4.
The sellout crowd of 20,202 at Percival Molson Stadium had little to cheer for during long stretches of a mostly uneventful game other than the defence, which blanked an opponent for the first time since Montreal beat Toronto 28-0 at Olympic Stadium on September 5, 1976. The Argonauts were shut out for the first time since losing 31-0 at home to Calgary on Sept. 13, 1992.
The Argonauts have scored only two TDs and 40 points in their last four games.
Their best chance came late in the fourth quarter, when Pickett hit Cory Rodgers on the Montreal six-yard line, but they could not get it in the end zone on three tries -- the last a pass that dropped behind receiver Chad Lucas, giving Montreal a turnover on downs.
Pickett replaced Joseph early in the fourth quarter, but coach Bart Andrus said it was not due to dissatisfaction with his starter.
"He had been hit in the head on the previous series and our trainer was a little concerned," Andrus said. "He had something on the side of his head.
"I didn't want to lose him for the next two weeks with another hit. And I wanted to see how Cody looked in a game situation because I haven't seen him, other than in the pre-season."
Joseph completed seven passes for 61 yards, while Pickett, who Andrus said did "an admirable job," had seven completions for 83 yards. On the other side, Anthony Calvillo piled up 395 yards on 35 completions.
"We're not as good a football team as they are right now," added Andrus. "We basically need to get to that level and we're not there now in a lot of areas.
"We have some issues up front. We need to get better at protecting our quarterbacks. To me, it's a blocking situation that needs to be corrected. We're trying different combinations."
Montreal slotback Ben Cahoon caught eight passes for 103 yards to put him past the 12,000 mark in career receiving yards. He also passed former Argonaut Derrell Mitchell for seventh place all-time in that category.
Cahoon, never the fastest receiver, called his career "a classic tortoise-and-the-hare story," but otherwise preferred to talk about the team's victory.
"It's just awesome," he said. "I don't think it will affect anything. It was just a great night for us."
The Alouettes had been held to a pair of Damon Duval singles until Calvillo closed the first half by completing 13 straight passes to put Montreal ahead 16-0.
Calvillo was 8-for-8 to set up Cobourne's TD on a one-yard run at 11:01 of the second quarter. He was 5-for-5 on Montreal's next possession, plus a pass interference call on the Argos' Willie Middlebrooks that gave them the ball on the one.
McPherson went into the game, rolled right and found Wilson, who had lined up at fullback, in the end zone on the final play of the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Calvillo hit Kerry Watkins with a 44-yard pass to the Toronto one and Cobourne took it over for his seventh TD of the season.
The first quarter saw each team give the ball away twice, once each on downs, and the only scoring was on Duval's 70-yard punt into the end zone.
A drive to start the second quarter stalled at the Toronto 18, but Duval's field goal attempt went wide left for another single.
Jermain McElveen had three sacks for Montreal, Stewart had two, while John Bowman and Ramon Guzman each had one.
At the end of the game, Bowman got into a scuffle with former Alouette Jeff Keeping, perhaps to give the teams something to remember for the next time they meet Oct. 3 in Toronto.
"That's what it's about -- we're rivals and we know every game is going to be tough," said Stewart. "They're a good team, but tonight was our turn."
It was the eighth shutout in Alouettes history and their third over the Argos.