BY: Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
There is going to be a re-match. Albeit it comes about 41 years after the fact, but there is going to be a re-match this coming weekend.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play for the Canadian Football League crown next weekend and they are going to play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders for it.
That’s right. As a result of one of the best Ticats/Argos games in many, many years, 2013 will be the year in which the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play for the Grey Cup.
Just like the last time they met for the CFL’s Grey Cup back in 1972.
I don’t know anything about that game so I won’t talk about it much but I do know one thing though. This game is exactly what this league needs.
No superpowers playing for the Grey Cup title.
Moreso, it’s two up-and-coming teams that both have every reason to want it bad. Both have experienced quarterbacks, but that’s about it. All of the ‘supporting casts’. The Riders have been there before recently and lost both times, that should play into it, but all in all, it will be two teams that haven’t won it all in years…and years.
Hamilton earned their right to play when they somehow managed to embarrass the Argonauts on their home field, 36-24.
The game was played at SkyDome in front of 35,418 fans (of both teams!).
This was the first East final played between these two teams in 27 years.
Hamilton began this season at 1-4.
They found themselves down by two scores late in the first half.
TURNING POINT-Toronto QB Ricky Ray was like Peyton Manning, destroyed the defence at will and looked at ease while doing it. The Double Blue came to within a tipped pass of putting up an 18-point lead nearing the half. Ray put the pass up for John Chiles, but the outstretched arm of Dee Webb got in the way. The play happened in the end zone. It could have been game over.
Toronto settled for a field goal and a 24-10 lead.
The insane part that nobody at that moment would ever believe was, they would not score again.
Wait until Henry Burris got the football back, the man was possessed.
Then he became the Peyton Manning of the CFL. He was dead-on with nearly all of his passes. He only missed his target three times in the second half.
Even better was that WR Andy Fantuz was ready to show up to play. He was unstoppable. Out for part of the year with an injury, he was Andy-on-the-spot several times, including twice in the opening half, scoring two TDs. He had 11 catches and 114 yards with the two TDs.
GAME BALL-During the halftime show of the CFL West final, panelist Dave Shultz suggested that his ‘game ball’ would not be awarded to a player on Sunday, but to a coach.
That coach was Hamilton defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer.
The Hamilton defence went into lockdown mode after an abysmal first half. It was the kind of play that has been seen before, just not in Hamilton.
Ray sliced ‘em and diced ‘em in the first half, picking up 279 yards and going 17-20 in passing through the first and second quarter.
The Argonaut offence generated just four plays in the third quarter and had the ball for a grand total of six minutes in that entire second half *gulp!
You can’t win games like that.
Anyone thinking that Steinauer worked some kind of magic to get his defence to wake up….wrong!
“Coach (Steinauer) didn’t make any halftime adjustments,” says linebacker Jamall Johnson.
“Coach didn’t make any magical plays or do anything different,” Johnson added. “We just came out with a different attitude and we refused to be denied.”
With less than five minutes remaining, a key Ticat drive which lasted 15 plays. Facing a 2nd-down-and 19, Burris found Bakari Grant for 25 yards, with an absolute bullet-of-a-pass. Dan LeFevour connected on a third-down-and short, Gable ran hard for a first down and Congi was successful from 21 yards to put the Tabbies up by six.
Ray and his receivers lost that impeccable timing that they so clearly had back in the first half, because of the efficiency of Steinauer’s defensive corps.
Only problem there was there was still 1:14 to go. Plenty of time for Ray to do something. He got Chad Owens for a long gain but also picked up a 15-yard penalty. The Argos ended up turning the ball over on downs. With 53 seconds left, all Hamilton needed was at least one first down. They could not get it.
Toronto’s chances came down to a punt return by Owens, who wound up fumbling the ball and it ended up in the end zone, covered by Hamilton’s Marc Beswick, putting another six points on the scoreboard for Hamilton as the clock ran out.
Hamilton is now going to the Grey Cup.
Centre Marwan Hage has been waiting 10 years for this, through all of the dark times, and the coaching changes and the other ups and downs that have been symbolic of this entire organization.
“The smile explains it, right? I’m happy for our fans. I’m happy for our city. I’m happy for my teammates. I’m happy for our city…everybody man.”
Burris is the first Hamilton QB to lead his team to the Grey Cup game since Danny McManus did it.
The 60th Grey Cup game was played on Dec. 3, 1972 before 33,993 fans at the now-destroyed Ivor Wynne Stadium, between the Tiger-Cats and the Roughriders. Hamilton won 13-10.