Tuesday Morning QB (99th Grey Cup)

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The 99th Grey Cup was full of great storylines that made the matchup one of two teams that made comebacks to get to the big game. The B.C. Lions were not the best team last year as they made the playoffs but they were also very disappointing team. This year the disappointment continued with the Lions losing their first 5 games of the year as they looked to fall into the bottom of the league this year. With a very bad season going into the bye week the Lions made a move to get Arland Bruce who helped the team’s attitude in the second half. In the last half of the season the Lions won 10 of their 11 games and launched themselves into first place in the West and a Grey Cup berth. Meanwhile in the East the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had finish in last place in 2010 as they looked like they might be at the beginning of a rebuilding phase. In 2011 they proved that theory wrong as from the start The Bombers looked like the team to beat. Through a rash of injuries and the tragic death of a beloved coach the Bomber persevered and came first in the East while also earning their Grey Cup berth. These two comeback teams were led by their defences although for B.C. the focus was on second year QB and MOP winner Travis Lulay and the rest of the Lions Offence. In Winnipeg it was no doubt that Swaggerville was all about their defence led by self-proclaimed Mayor Odell Willis. Both of these teams had their own leaders on the sidelines as Paul LaPolice made his first Grey Cup as a head coach after making the Grey Cup in 2009 as the Offensive Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In only his second year as a head coach LaPolice managed to take his team past the Montreal Alouettes and win the East and make the Grey Cup for the first time since 2007 when they lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. His counterpart was on the other end of the coaching spectrum with Wally Buono staring at the end of his career. Buono has done just about everything in the CFL as the winningest Coach in CFL History and already a Grey Cup winner in 2006 with the Lions. The Buono era in BC has been one of the most successful eras in the team’s history and with the 99th Grey Cup looming Buono sent signs that he may retire after the game. Buono himself was a veteran presence at the game but there were also two veterans on the field for both teams. On B.C. Brent Johnson was playing in his 11th season, all with BC, and was contemplating retirement before the game. Johnson, a future hall of famer, was a key player for the Lions all year provided a solid defensive presence and a veteran presence in the locker room. His counterpart on the Blue Bombers was future hall of famer Doug Brown who was playing in his 11th season, all with Winnipeg, and would be playing for the Grey Cup near his hometown of Westminster BC. Doug Brown has been one of the most solid players on the Bombers team helping to lead the Bombers to the best defence in the league and into the Grey Cup and had announced that this game would be his last in the CFL. With so much going on in the 99th Grey Cup there were plenty of reasons to watch the game with everything on the line.

The Game started as many had predicted with a defensive struggle between the two best defences in the league. The defences took control in the first few drives as they shut down the offence. Travis Lulay (21/37, 320 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT) could not get his passing game going in the first quarter but he did have some help. As Winnipeg continued to try to find a way through they handed the ball off to Andrew Harris (10 rsh, 65 yds, 1 TD) for a TD to open the scoring in the game. The Lions passing offence looked like it had some life in the 2nd quarter but they could not capitalize and kicked a field goal going ahead 14-0 near the end of the quarter. The Bombers began getting their offence together as well but could not capitalize on some good passing by Buck Pierce (19/37, 250 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT). At the half the score was 14-6 with both offences beginning to get rolling. The defences did it again as they would not let the offences get going to start the second half. The Bombers kicked another field goal to open the scoring in the second half but were still behind 9-14. The Lions then finally broke throw the pass defence with a long TD pass from Lulay to Kierrie Johnson (2 rec, 81 yds, 1 TD) putting the Lions even further ahead. In the 4th quarter the Lions were ahead 24-9 with both defences continuing to make life difficult. At the start of the 4th quarter the Bombers were looking make a comeback and had the perfect opportunity to reverse their fortunes as Odell Willis (1 tkl, 0 sck, 0 INT) had an interception in his hands and a possible TD that could have changed the game. He dropped the ball giving the Lions a second chance that they took advantage of with a TD pass to Arland Bruce (5 rec, 73 yds, 1 TD) to go ahead 31-9. The game seemed all but over as the Lions were continuing to stop the Bomber offence as Pierce could not get them rolling. With less than 5 minutes left in the game Pierce finally broke through with a TD pass to Greg Carr (7 rec, 107 yds, 1 TD) to reduce the lead with little time left. After a big punt return by Jovon Johnson (6 PR, 71 yds, 0 TD) the Bombers threw another TD pass this time to Terrence Edwards (6 rec, 83 yds, 1 TD). The Bombers comeback was on with less than two minutes left in the game as the offence looked to finally be in sync. After a failed onside kick the Lions made sure to make it even harder for the Bombers to complete their comeback as Paul McCallum (4/5 FG, 1 single, 3/3 XP, 16 pts) kicked another field goal to put the Lions up for good 34-23. With the win the Lions became only the fourth team to win a Grey Cup at home in the modern era and won their 5th in franchise history. Brent Johnson and Wally Buono did not answer questions about their potential retirement only saying they would make announcements later in the offseason. Meanwhile Winnipeg will move into the offseason continuing their now 21 year Grey Cup Drought. Paul LaPolice will remain head coach and the Odell Willis will need to answer some big questions about his actions before the game when his tweets caused a distraction that may have had an effect on his poor performance in the game.  They will be losing one key player as Doug Brown will retire and not be back for next season as they look to repeat a great performance in 2011. With the 99th Grey Cup done it is officially time to countdown for the biggest grey cup ever as next year the historic 100th Grey Cup will be held where it all began in Toronto as every team has a chance to win the Grey Cup from this moment on.

99th Grey Cup:

B.C. Lions 34 – 23 Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Most Outstanding Player:

Travis Lulay, QB (B.C.)

21/37

320 yds

2 TD

0 INT

Most Outstanding Canadian

Andrew Harris, RB (B.C.)

10 rsh

65 yds

6.5 avg

1 TD

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