Ranking the Famous Five Grey Cup Games
Well we are at that point in the lost season. It should have been Grey Cup week this week. And whilst the CFL is finding virtual ways to celebrate, that doesn’t mean we as fans aren’t missing the big game.
So what can we do to fill the void? Well a good debate always gets people interested. People love a good argument. That’s why so many websites rank best and worst of categories. They know it will lead to healthy debate.
Well, what about ranking the Grey Cups? You could do it, but there have been 107 of them up to now. Not to mention we weren’t around for a large chunk of them!
Well, we have an advantage here. 2019 was only the fifth year BT Sport had been showing the CFL in the UK.
The Famous Five
Which is why we find ourselves with a ‘Famous Five’ Grey Cups to rank. One thing to note is how lucky we have been since the game was shown over here. There have been some exceptionally good Grey Cup games in the last half decade that provided our famous five.
So let’s dive in and rank them!
5th: The 2019 Grey Cup
Nobody can take away from the Winnipeg fans the joy of ending the drought. But this one was never really competitive from the get-go.
Dane Evans first pass for Hamilton was tipped and intercepted. Followed on the next series by a strip sack. And it was obvious early that the Blue Bombers D Line were set to dominate.
Winnipeg were up 17-6 by the second period, and their ball control saw them hold the ball for 35:31 of the game. The final score of 33-12 was a fair reflection of a game Winnipeg dominated.
But that wasn’t one for the neutrals. If your team isn’t playing you are hoping for a close, hotly contested matchup with an exciting finish. The 2019 Grey Cup did not provide that.
4th: The 2018 Grey Cup
Don’t get me wrong. The 2018 game wasn’t a bad game. It just wasn’t the barn-burner some of the others we’ve been privileged to see have been.
The Calgary Stampeders never really lost control in a game they won 27-16 against the Ottawa RedBlacks.
Calgary finally won the CFL title in its third straight appearance. They had dominated the regular season but fallen twice in epic title games (see below). Redemption was the real story in this one.
3rd: The 2015 Grey Cup
The first game we saw was a great advert. The 103rd Grey Cup was a see-saw battle between Edmonton and Ottawa REDBLACKS.
Edmonton ultimately won 26-20 but we were witness to an Ottawa team that had gone 2-16 as an expansion club a year earlier jump out to a 13-0 lead. After scoring exchanges Edmonton led 17-16 at the half and it was clear this one was in the balance.
The second half was dominated by the D’s but Edmonton scored the winning TD with 3:22 to go. We had been introduced to Grey Cup football and we liked what we saw!
2nd: The 2016 Grey Cup
The REDBLACKS were back, this time facing the Stampeders. After a 15-2-1 season the Stamps were heavily favoured, but it was the 8-9-1 team from Ottawa that caused one of the great Grey Cup upsets.
This game was the REDBLACKS first Grey Cup win as a franchise, and the first CFL title in Ottawa for forty years. In only their third season they had gone from 2-16 expansion stragglers to 2 title games and a championship.
This was a championship game for the ages. It featured the underdogs getting out to a big lead, the favourites making a huge comeback, and eventually a huge upset in overtime.
Calgary recovered an onside kick and nearly won it in regulation, but it was Ottawa’s day as they won out 39-33.
How could any game top the crazy back and forth nature of this one? Well…
1st: The 2017 Grey Cup
There was just something in the air that day – snow mostly, but a little magic too. The 13-4-1 Stampeders were back, looking to put the previous years’ upset behind them. Once again they were heavily favoured against the 9-9 Toronto Argonauts. Surely it couldn’t happen again?
Of course we know it did, as the Argos used two of the biggest plays in Grey Cup history as a springboard to a 27-24 upset.
This wasn’t just about the game though. The ‘snow globe game’ was a spectacle from start to finish. It’s the combination of game and spectacle that puts this game at the peak of our famous five.
Ricky Ray brought the Toronto Argos back, and they took the lead for the first time in the game on a 45-yard field goal following a 49-yard seven play drive. That was with 53 ticks left on the game clock.
Calgary, again, almost won it but a Matt Black interception in the endzone capped the win for the Boatmen. It was a ‘sneaky win‘ that would go down in football folklore.
Those big plays? Just a 100 yard touchdown pass and an 109 yard fumble return. Both touchdowns. Both for Toronto.
There was something in the stars under a snowy sky as Ray became the first quarterback in CFL history to win the Grey Cup four times as a starting quarterback and the Argos walked away with their 17th Grey Cup.
My favourite of the Famous Five Grey Cup games shown in the UK. But feel free to disagree! It’s in the opinions and the debates around them that sport can be fun after all.
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