It was a case of going from drought to rout as Winnipeg ended the CFL‘s longest championship wait. A feat they achieved with a convincing win in the Grey Cup.
As we noted in the run up to the game, it’s been a long wait for Winnipeg fans – since 1990.
Bombers leave Tabbies shell-shocked
In front of what proved to be a partisan crowd of 35,439 fans at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, the Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 to capture their 11th Grey Cup in team history.
It was obvious they had come to play from early on. Dane Evans first pass for Hamilton was tipped and intercepted. On the next series there was strip sack. League MOP Brandon Banks went to the sideline banged up.
Winnipeg won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that is always a recipe for success.
Punch First and keep Swingin’
Winnipeg coaching staff had a motto for the 2019 post-season – “Punch first, keep swingin’, stay in the fight”.
They certainly did that here as it felt like they came out throwing hay-makers and left Hamilton reeling from the get-go. By the second quarter they were 17-6 up and they never went behind.
Since 2005, teams with the greater time of possession have gone 14-1 in the Grey Cup. Winnipeg held the ball for 35:31 of the game. Take care of the football. Keep the football. Win.
Winnipeg also won the turnover battle by a ridiculous 8-1 margin. I believe that since 1952, the Grey Cup team with fewer turnovers is now 48-5. Take care of the football. Keep the football. Win.
Riding Harris to Victory
The Blue Bombers’ Running Back Andrew Harris was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance earlier this season.
He played like a man with a chip on his shoulder in this one. The Winnipeg native became the first player in CFL history to win both the Grey Cup’s Most Outstanding Player as well as the Most Outstanding Canadian awards.
Harris rumbled for 134 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as well as adding 5 catches for 35 yards and another score.
He was running hard, but a lot if it was down to the lanes his line were clearing. Meanwhile the Winnipeg D was causing chaos along the line for the Ti-Cats.
This was the first time a Canadian has been named Grey Cup MVP since the great quarterback Russ Jackson of the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1969.
Cat-astrophe for Hamilton
The mantle for ‘longest title drought’ in the CFL now passes to the defeated Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Their win 20 years ago becomes the longest active gap between victories.
This record setting team with a plethora of award winners will doubtless come back all the more motivated in 2020 to end their own fans’ long wait.
Sport is full of strange story-lines and this was no different. In week 1 of this season, quarterback Zach Collaros was put on the six-game injured list. This followed him taking a high hit from Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence.
That was whilst playing for Saskatchewan, now he was leading the Bombers to victory on the last day of the 2019 season.
This win marks the end to an incredible run for the Bombers, including back to back road wins over Calgary and Saskatchewan to reach the Grey Cup.
This was the fifth Grey Cup to be shown in the UK. In that time we have had 5 different winners, which is absolutely fabulous for the neutrals watching.
Surely ‘Friendly Manitoba’ will be ‘Party Manitoba’ for a little while now as they rightly celebrate this win.
However, nothing stays still and beyond those celebrations, all nine CFL teams will already be preparing for 2020. Let’s hope we have just as exciting a season to look forward to.
Banner image from bluebombers.com
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