Few gave the Ottawa Redblacks a chance in the 104th Grey Cup, but after four quarters and overtime, Ottawa defeated the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders 39-33.
Calgary entered the Grey Cup as 9.5 point favourites. In the regular season they went 15-2-1. A Grey Cup win, would have put Calgary in the conversation as one of the best teams in CFL history. Earlier in the week, they cleaned up at the CFL awards ceremony. In two previous match-ups between the teams, one ended in a 26-26 draw, the other a convincing Calgary win. But in neither game, did former Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris play.
Burris played one of the greatest games in his 20-year professional career to lead Ottawa to its first Grey Cup since 1976. In what very well might be his final CFL game, the 41-year old Burris threw for 461 yards, three touchdowns and ran for a touchdown.
The 104th Grey Cup will go down as an instant classic and one of the biggest upsets in CFL history. Ottawa jumped out to a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter. But in the second half, Calgary slowly chipped away tying the game and forcing overtime.
Ottawa finished the regular season 8-9-1, winning the East Final against the Edmonton Eskimos in a 103rd Grey Cup rematch. But they followed the blueprint they used in their two previous matchups with Calgary to get the victory. For the third time this season, Ottawa held the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian, Calgary’s Jerome Messam to under 40 yards rushing.
But the difference between the first two matchups and the Grey Cup, Ottawa forced Calgary quarterback and Most Outstanding Player Bo-Levi Mitchell to uncharacteristically turn the football over. Mitchell threw three interceptions, and gave Ottawa’s offense the chance to win the advantage in time of possession and total yards battle.
After going down 27-10, Mitchell lead back to back touchdown drives to cut the score to 27-23, after kicker Rene Paredes missed a point after with 13:35 to play. With six minutes left, Burris scored a touchdown, but kicker Ray Early missed the point after. Six minutes left and Ottawa lead 33-23.
In the CFL, three minutes can feel like an eternity, and for Ottawa it certainly did. With 1:38, Most Outstanding Rookie DaVaris Daniels ran for a 19 yard touchdown. Down three Calgary got the ball back and drove down inside the Ottawa five yard line. A touchdown would win the Grey Cup for Calgary, a field goal would force overtime.
From the two-yard line, CFL coach of the year Dave Dickenson elected to use Canadian quarterback Andrew Buckley on a quarterback roll out to score the winning touchdown. Ottawa stuffed the play and forced Calgary to hit the game tying field goal.
The decision to go with Buckley will be compared to Super Bowl 49, when the Seattle Seahawks elected to pass the football from the two yard line instead of handing the football to bruising running back Marshawn Lynch.
In the Calgary backfield is most outstanding Canadian, and league leading rusher Jerome Messam. At 6’3” and 263lbs, Messam is a difficult man to stop from getting two yards. The decision to not give Messam a chance to win the game, will be discussed for years to come.
In overtime, Burris led his final touchdown drive, connecting with Ernest Jackson for the go-ahead touchdown. A failed two point convert gave Calgary a chance to win with a touchdown and convert. Calgary went for the tying touchdown on the first play, but could not complete the pass. Second down, Calgary went short, but again, incomplete. Third down, Mitchell’s pass fell incomplete. Despite, early contact from the Ottawa defender, the flags remained in the officials’ pockets. Ottawa had won the Grey Cup.