For the Calgary Stampers the third time really was the charm. The team that has dominated the regular season for the last five years and more finally delivered in the big game. This time no one can call them chokers. No one can make fun of their inability to take the last step. This time they took home all the marbles.
Calgary won convincingly 27-16 against the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the 106th Grey Cup. After losing the past two Grey Cup finals, the relief was palpable for Calgary.
The Stamps won thanks to a thumping defence that grabbed six takeaways, an offence that did what it needed to do, and Terry Williams sprinting off to a record-setting punt return touchdown.
Football is a simple game really
Sometimes football can seem really hi-tech these days. The X’s and O’s seem to get increasingly more complex. Some of the offensive plays teams run sound longer than some quadratic equations you encounter.
At it’s heart though it can be really simple. Take care of the football. Keep the football. Win. A lot of the time those rules still apply. The CFL posted out after that game that Since 1952, the Grey Cup team with fewer turnovers is now 47-5. The Stamps won the turnover battle.
Since 2005, teams with the greater time of possession have gone 13-1 in the Grey Cup. Calgary held the ball for 35:17 of the game. Take care of the football. Keep the football. Win.
Calgary finally won the CFL title in its third straight appearance. The Stampeders lost 39-33 in an overtime classic to Ottawa in 2016 before losing 27-24 in another classic last year against the Toronto Argonauts.
At the centre of all of this has been league MOP Bo Levi Mitchell. He was the game MVP going 24 of 35 for 253 yards and two touchdown passes, although he also had two interceptions. Mitchell won the game’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career after winning it in 2014. He’s the seventh player in CFL history to win multiple Grey Cup MVPs.
Stampeders receiver Lemar Durant was named the outstanding Canadian with four catches for 30 yards and a TD and a 22-yard run. All the sweeter for Durant as his own journey to this point has not been an easy one battling back from an ACL injury.
Calgary coach Dave Dickenson is in his third year in charge. He now has a 41-11-2 record. Most important of all he has a Grey Cup to his name. There can be little doubt that if the Stamps had lost for the third year in a row following, 15-2-1, 13-4-1 and 13-5 seasons that people would have been labelling him as a coach that couldn’t win the big one. Not any more.
Special teams matter
Momentum is huge in games like this. Just before the half REDBLACKS quarterback Trevor Harris found an open receiver, who broke a tackle and went in for a 55-yard touchdown. J.C. Beaulieu caught the two-point convert from Harris, cutting the deficit to 14-11 for Ottawa.
That would have been a pretty good position for Ottawa at that point. Instead, Stamps returner Terry Williams caught a punt at his own 13, weaved back up-field and then sprinted past the kicker, scoring a Grey Cup record 97-yard punt return touchdown.
Last year Calgary fell foul of two of the biggest plays in Grey Cup history but this year it was them delivering the blow and shifting the momentum.
Later in the game Calgary’s special teams came to the fore once more. By now Ottawa were behind by two scores early in the fourth quarter. When Diontae Spence fumbled a punt return it was recovered by the Stamps special teams giving Calgary the ball back in great field position. The result was a field goal and a 13 point lead that Ottawa would not be able to overcome.
Putting the final stamp on it
The REDBLACKS briefly appeared to be back in it when a Harris’ throw to the end zone was apparently caught by a diving Greg Ellingson. However, upon further review, the ball was trapped and Ottawa would go on to turn the ball over on downs.
After that Trevor Harris was left with no option to throw deep while the Stamps sat back and waited in ball-hawking mode. In all it was a great night for the Stamps’ defence. They notched three interceptions off Harris by Wall, Evans and rookie Tre Roberson. Calgary won the turnover battle and the rest was history.
Football is a simple game really. Take care of the football. Keep the football. Win. That’s just what the Calgary Stampeders did and that’s why they won the 106th Grey Cup.
Banner image from cfl.ca