Title number 12. That’s what the win in the 108th Grey Cup delivered for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And what a turnaround that is. The Blue Bombers may be the defending champions having won in 2019. They have now delivered the first back to back titles since the 1960’s. How Winnipeg fans would like to emulate that era. In a six year span Head Coach Bud Grant led the team on a 75-21 regular season run. Culminating in five Grey Cup appearances and four wins.
It has not been an easy path for the team or their fans in more recent times though. Their 10th Grey Cup win came in 1990. However, little did they or their fans know that the Blue Bombers would not win another title (despite five Grey Cup appearances) until 2019. However title number 11 has been succeeded in rapid fashion by title number 12.
Title Number 12 – delivered in dramatic fashion
Unlike the last Grey Cup, this one was a much tougher contest. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats certainly played their part on their home field.
On a windy night, which affected the kicking game significantly, the Blue Bombers came through with a 33-25 decision in overtime. We have had the privelige of seeing some great games since the Grey Cup has been broadcast in the UK before this one. And this one will be marked down as another.
In fact it was only the fourth time the Grey Cup has gone to overtime in its illustrious history. Yet two of those games have come in the six games we have had the benefit of enjoying.
What is it about back to back wins for Winnipeg over Hamilton? Because on the previous two occasions where the Blue Bombers won back-to-back Grey Cups, the victories were also against the Ticats, in 1958-59 and 1961-62.
It started steady but finished with drama
This Grey Cup got off to a slow start. In fact, there wasn’t a single first down in the first four possessions of the game. The first time that’s happened in the Grey Cup since 1993!
Winnipeg led 4-0 after one and that was the least points in the first quarter of a Grey Cup game since 2008. That is not how the game will be remembered however as it came to life later on. Unfortunately, Hamilton starting QB Dane Evans was knocked out of the game, but Jeremiah Masoli came in and led Hamilton to leads of 10-7 at the half, 19-10 after three and a 22-10 lead early in the fourth.
Winnipeg came all the way back to take a 25-22 lead with 1:52 remaining after a fifth field goal by Sergio Castillo and an ensuing kickoff single.
The Ticats, replied with a Michael Domagala game-tying field goal with four seconds remaining. From a dull start the game had exploded into back and forth tension and drama.
Overtime seals it
The defending champs took title number 12 in overtime. The Blue Bombers hit on a touchdown from QB Zach Collaros to WR Darvin Adams. Then added the 2 pointer.
Hamilton’s reply was thwarted as Masoli saw a pass intercepted by Kyrie Wilson after it was first tipped twice beforehand.
It’s one they’ll talk about for a while in Winnipeg I’ve no doubt. After all those years without a title, they’ve rediscovered that winning feeling. And they don’t feel like giving it up any time soon.
Title number 12 for Winnipeg adds to the storied Grey Cup rivalry between these two. The Blue Bombers have 12 Grey Cup championships now. Wins coming in 1935, 1939, 1941, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1984, 1988, 1990, 2019 and 2021.
As noted, this is the fourth Grey Cup to go to overtime. And, ironically, last time Winnipeg had back to back wins, the first came in 1961 (against Hamilton) and was one of those four overtime wins.
Banner Image league MOP and game MVP Zach Collaros. Image from cfl.ca