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Lions' tenacious 'D' smothers Argonauts

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TORONTO -- Another week, another defensive shutout for Byron Parker, Lin-J Shell and the CFL's top-ranked unit.

B.C.'s defence forced four turnovers and didn't allow a touchdown for the second straight game to anchor the Lions' 18-9 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Monday night, with both teams heading into their bye week.

B.C. (4-2) earned its second straight win, thanks in large part to its defence. The Lions came into Monday's game off a dominating 34-8 decision over Calgary, holding the Stampeders two field goals and a safety to snap a mini two-game losing streak.

The emphatic victory was especially sweet for Parker and Shell, former Argos defensive backs making their first return to Rogers Centre with their new team. And both contributed to the Lions' defensive effort as Shell -- who was released by Toronto in January -- had four tackles and a fumble recovery while Parker -- who spent seven years in Double Blue before signing with B.C. as a free agent -- added three tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half that came back due to a penalty.

"We know if teams can't score touchdowns on us we can't lose, it's as easy as that," Parker said. "This was a home game for Lin-J and I and this is a place where we've both made plays so coming here and playing bad wasn't really an option for us.

"It would've been nice had that (interception return TD) stood up but everybody in the stands knows I scored and I'm fine with that. It helped set the tone early for us and I'm just excited we came in and got a victory."

Shell said the Lions' defensive performance was a statement to the rest of the CFL.

"That was 10 times more important than any individual accolade could ever be," Shell said. "(Argos starter) Ricky Ray is a great quarterback and we were able to keep him out of the end zone,

"Across the league, that speaks for us and we have to try to keep doing that."

B.C.'s outstanding defensive play also ensured a victorious homecoming for Mike Benevides, a Toronto native making his first appearance in his hometown as a CFL head coach. How the Lions won was also especially gratifying for Benevides, who served as the Lions' defensive co-ordinator before taking over as head coach when Wally Buono stepped down following last year's Grey Cup win.

"The defence, gosh, is playing so well it's freakish right now," Benevides said. "I think what the fans got tonight was two outstanding defences really battling it out.

"Fortunately for us we started real fast with some turnovers and scored 10 points off of those, which was huge."

B.C.'s defence set the tone early, intercepting Ray on Toronto's opening two offensive possessions that helped the Lions surge into a 10-0 lead. The Argos' offence never recovered, finishing with 220 nets yards as Ray finished 25-of-34 passing for 215 yards and three interceptions while being sacked four times.

"They made it tough on us all night," said Ray. "When they get into your face you can't see what's developing downfield and the clock is ticking."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2012 D5

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