Overtime! When the Grey Cup ranneth over

Overtime! When the Grey Cup ranneth over
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Overtime! When the Grey Cup ranneth over!

The Grey Cup has been contested 107 times in its’ illustrious 112 year history. It has been stopped in its tracks three times. For two World Wars, and when Covid cancelled last year’s CFL season.

The League has recently been releasing broadcasts of historic Grey Cup games dating back to the late 1940’s. There have been some amazing contests in there. But, so far, very few overtime games. Which led me to wondering, how many overtime games have there been out of 107 games? It turns out there have been some amazing contests. But only on three occasions has the Grey Cup game gone into OT. Those contests being in 1961, 2005 and 2016.

The games have featured six different teams. And the appearance of those teams in the ‘big game’ has reflected on the eras they were played in. So, without further ado let’s take a look at the Grey Cup contests that required overtime to find a winner.

1961 Grey Cup – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 21, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 14

Image from Pinterest.ca

Venue: Exhibition Stadium
Location: Toronto, ON
Date: December 2
Attendance: 32,651
Winning Coach: Bud Grant
Most Valuable Player: Ken Ploen, QB, Winnipeg

When I said these games reflected their era, this one probably does that the most. Winnipeg and Hamilton played each other in the Grey Cup game five times in a six year period running from 1957 to 1962. Winnipeg would come out on top on four occasions creating something of a Dynasty under Head Coach Bud Grant. They had some close contests along the way, including this one that went into overtime.

After both missing the 1960 Grey Cup game, the Blue Bombers and Tiger-Cats were ready to renew their rivalry in the Grey Cup for this one.

The Tiger-Cats jumped to an early lead on a big play. Quarterback Bernie Faloney connected on a short pass to Paul Dekker deep in Hamilton territory. Dekker hit the afterburners and outran six Winnipeg defenders for a 90-yard touchdown.

Hamilton had an opportunity to extend their lead heading into halftime, when a pass interference call gave them a first down on the Winnipeg one-yard line for the final play of the first half. Instead of attempting a field goal, head coach Jim Trimble opted to go for a touchdown. But there was a misplay on the snap causing a fumble, and Hamilton had to settle for a 7-1 lead after 30 minutes.

Hamilton continued to dominate in the third quarter, when Ralph Goldston caught a Faloney pass, broke an attempted tackle by Nick Miller, and reached the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Tiger-Cats up 14-4.

Winnipeg fight back and force overtime

Hamilton would not score again. But Winnipeg would finally get rolling. Beginning from their own 23-yard line, the Blue Bombers put together a long drive to set up a 28-yard field goal by James to make it 14-7 after three periods of play.

With less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on second down and 30, Farrell Funston caught a pass from Winnipeg QB Ken Ploen for a 34-yard gain to the Hamilton five-yard line. James, following some sound blocking, scored on a one-yard plunge to tie the score at 14.

Thus the 1961 Grey Cup finished tied 14-14 at the end of regulation play. This overtime consisted of two 10-minute halves. Both teams were scoreless in the first extra period.

It took 73 minutes and two seconds for the Blue Bombers to take the lead for the first time. And by default the win. Ploen evaded three Hamilton defenders skipping down the sideline en route to an 18-yard game winning touchdown run. Gerry James’ convert was his 14th point of the game.

For Hamilton this had been their second consecutive overtime playoff game. The other coming just a week earlier in the Eastern Conference Final against Toronto, the home leg of a 2 game series.

2005 Grey Cup – Edmonton Eskimos 38 Montreal Alouettes 35

Image from cfl.ca

Venue: BC Place Stadium
Location: Vancouver, BC
Date: November 27
Attendance: 59,157
Winning Coach: Danny Maciocia
Most Valuable Player: Ricky Ray, QB, Edmonton
Most Valuable Canadian: Mike Mauer, RB, Edmonton

Once again the matchup reflects well the era this Grey Cup game comes from. In the 2000’s the Alouettes made it back to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1979. Three of those games would come against Edmonton. This was the third meeting in four years between the two sides in the Grey Cup game. Montreal had won in 2002, Edmonton in 2003, but this overtime matchup was the best of their three contests in this period.

Oh how the fans of the BC Lions would have liked to see their team play at their home stadium in this one. They had led the way in the West going 12-6. Fans of the 11-7 East leading Argos and their league MOP QB Damon Allen had also dreamed of being here. But it was 11-7 Edmonton against the 10-8 Als and it is hard to conceive that any other matchup would have produced a more thrilling contest.

There was little indication of what was to come early on in the game. Sean Fleming gave Edmonton the lead with an 18 yard field goal halfway through the opening quarter. Montreal responded with one point when Damon Duval hit a 56 yard kick through the End Zone.

There was over 11 minutes of the second quarter gone before fans saw another score. This time Edmonton QB Ricky Ray hit WR Ed Hervey for a 9 yard TD pass. Fleming hit the convert and the score was 10-1 at the intermission.

Montreal come out fighting after halftime

The Alouettes made a contest of it in the third period. Eric Lapointe scored on a 1 yard scamper and the convert made it 10-8. After that the steady game of the first half was forgotten and this turned into a back and forth battle for the trophy.

During the final 4 minutes of the third quarter the momentum shifted back and forth. With 4:04 left in the quarter Fleming hit another field goal for a 13-8 Edmonton lead. The Als responded within a minute with another Lapointe 1 yard run and Duval convert to see Montreal ahead for the first time 15-13. That lead was padded by Duval hitting on a 13 yard FG for an 18-13 lead. However the momentum swung straight back to Edmonton as Tony Tompkins ran back a Grey Cup recod 96 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The conversion made it 20-18 Edmonton going into the final period.

The pace of the scoring did actually slow down in the final period. But it did not stop all together. Midway through the period Als QB Anthony Calvillo scoring on a one-yard bootleg. Montreal led 25-20. The Als held that lead until there was just over a minute left in the game.

With just over two minutes remaining on a vital third and 4 play from the Montreal 50, Ray connected with Derrell Mitchell on a 35-yard pass. Two pass interference penalties, including one in the End Zone put the Eskimos on the one-yard line. From there it was Ray’s turn to plunge over the goalline. Ray then hit Jason Tucker for a 2 point conversion and a 28-25 lead. But the Als weren’t done. They got themselves in position for Duval to attempt a 28 yard field goal. Which he duly made as time expired to leave the score tied at 28-28 at the end of regulation play.

Overtime Shootout

The overtime regulations now were based around a shootout format. Each team being given a chance to scrimmage from their opponents 35 yard line. If the teams are then tied after each side has completed an offensive series they will play on under the same format until an outright winner is determined.

Montreal went first. Calvillo found Dave Stala in the End Zone for a 30 yard TD and a 35-28 lead. Edmonton hit back as Ricky Ray hit Tucker from 11 yards out to tie it up once more.

For the second overtime Edmonton went first. Facing second and 4 they could not score and settled for another field goal from Fleming to lead 38-35. On First Down in the response Calvillo had the ball batted down by Edmonton DE Joe Montford, but then caught the ball back to himself throwing into the End Zone for a wide open Kerry Watkins who dropped the pass. However, this was an illegal forward pass and the Als were penalized 10 yards. Charles Alston then sacked Calvillo for an 11-yard loss, putting the Alouettes in a very difficult position.

Facing third and 30+ to go Calvillo was forced to scramble by the Edmonton pass rush, and in desperation while scrambling punted the ball forward. Edmonton’s A.J. Gass caught it and Edmonton claimed the win in the second Grey Cup game to go into overtime. 

2016 Grey Cup – Ottawa RedBlacks 39 Calgary Stampeders 33

Image from ottawaredblacks.com

Venue: BMO Field
Location: Toronto, ON
Date: November 27
Attendance: 33,421
Winning Coach: Rick Campbell
Most Valuable Player: Henry Burris, QB, Ottawa
Most Valuable Canadian: Brad Sinopoli, WR, Ottawa

As with the previous two overtime Grey Cup contests, this one reflects the era it comes from. Especially with the presence of the Ottawa RedBlacks. The third team to play in Ottawa following the demise of the Rough Riders and the Renegades the RedBlacks had only been playing since 2014. Following a 2-16 debut season they had gone 12-6 in 2015 and lost in the Grey Cup to Edmonton. Now, in their third season they were back once again.

Following an 8-9-1 regular season, the RedBlacks found themselves clear second favourites to the 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders. Who were looking to take their second Grey Cup title in three years (following a 15-3 season in 2014 they had won it all).

So this one was the young upstarts (22-31-1) Redblacks against a Calgary team in its’ 59th CFL season that had posted a dominant record (44-9-1) since Ottawa joined the league. Which made this result, which saw the city of Ottawa claim its’ first Grey Cup in 40 years, all the more surprising. And they gave us one of the best Grey Cup games of the decade along the way.

A scare along the way for Ottawa

During warm-ups Ottawa starting QB Henry Burris appeared to injure his knee. Backup Trevor Harris appeared for the RedBlacks for both leading the side out during team introductions and for the pre-game coin toss.

Burris would receive medical attention from the team doctors and came out to play once the game kicked off. From there he was able to lead Ottawa to open the scoring. This as a 65 yard drive was capped by Burris running in a 1 yard TD to open the scoring. Finding the RedBlacks ahead midway through the first quarter.

Calgary responded with a 79 yard drive of their own. Capped by Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell hitting RB Jerome Messam for a 7 yard TD. Both scores were converted making it 7-7. Redblacks kicker Ray Early restored the lead to Ottawa by hitting a 29 yard field goal as the quarter wound down.

The second quarter was all about Ottawa. Burris hit RB Patrick Lavoie for a six yard TD and Early hit on another field goal (from 29 yards out this time) as the underdog RedBlacks bulit up a 20-7 halftime lead. Keying that lead was the fact that the Ottawa D picked off Mitchell twice in the second quarter alone. This after he had thrown just 8 picks all season long.

The favourites fight back – twice

Both of the previous overtime Grey Cup contests had seen one team launch a fight-back on the way to going into an extra period, and this one was no different.

Not that it looked that way to begin with. Burris hit WR Brad Sinopli for a 9 yard TD early in the third to see Ottawa ahead 27-7. Which is when the Stampeders seemingly woke up. Firstly Rene Parades hit on a 32 yard field goal. Then Mitchell hit on a 33 yard touchdown pass to receiver Lamar Durant. The RedBlacks lead had been reduced to 27-17 going into the final quarter.

In fact Calgary scored 16 unanswered points. The latest early in the fourth quarter as backup QB Andrew Buckley ran in a 1 yard TD. Parades missed on the XP, but the score was now down to 27-23 in Ottawa’s favour and the pressure was on the RedBlacks to respond.

With 6:21 left in the game the young franchise did just that as Burris ran in another touchdown from a yard out. This time Ottawa missed the XP. The score had moved to 33-23 to Ottawa and stayed that way until just under 2 minutes remained in the game.

The last 2 minutes of regulation and overtime

Having been picked off (again) on the previous drive, Bo Levi Mitchell led the Stamps out with 2:21 to go. He duly hit on 3 of 4 passes for 16, 35 and 8 yard gains. All of which led to WR Davaris Daniles running in a TD from 19 yards out with 1:44 on the clock. The conversion made it 33-30 Ottawa.

Calgary recovered an onside kick and their Offence kicked into high gear. Mitchell hit on passes of 6, 10, 15 & 9 yards to put the Stamps on the Ottawa 21 with a minute to go. A 13 yard PI call and a 6 yard run put them on the Ottawa 2 yard line. The Stamps controversially kept the ball out of Mitchell’s hands and away from their strong RB Messam, instead looking for Buckley to repeat his TD to start the quarter. The RedBlacks kept him out and Rene Paredes’ 10-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining forced the extra session.

They arguably could have won it there but Calgary had still impressively rallied from a 27-7 third-quarter deficit.

The RedBlacks got the ball first in overtime. Calgary had won the toss and deferred. Burris hit Ernest Jackson for an 18 yard TD and a 39-33 lead. The maandatory two point attempt failed and Calgary had their shot. Three incomplete passes saw the RedBlacks seal their first Grey Cup win in the third Grey Cup game to make it to overtime.

Go check out the games

You would expect a game going into overtime to be good. Which each of these Grey Cup games was. Each of these games has something to make them worth watching. They are all littered with great plays and star players. I highly recommend going and taking a look at each one as a window into their eras of play.

Fingers crossed that we get many more excting games of this ilk in the years to come.

Banner image: Recently elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Hank Burris lifts the 2016 Grey Cup. The last of the three occasions the CFL championship game has gone to overtime. Image from RedBlacks.com

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