Tuesday Morning QB (104th Grey Cup)

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There was little question heading into the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto that the Calgary Stampeders were going to walk away as the champions.

It seemed almost like everyone else was just waiting for the new season to start with plenty of questions heading into the off-season.

The season was essentially over and it made complete sense because there had never been a team as good as the Stamps in the Grey Cup and there had never been a team as bad as the REDBLACKS in the Grey Cup.

The Stamps had the best quarterback in Bo Levi Mitchell who was this year’s MOP while also have the best running back in Jerome Messam who won the Most Outstanding Canadian.

To add to that “pick your poison” type of offence they had the best defence in the league allowing the least amount of points in the season by far.

Meanwhile, Ottawa had won a division with a losing record and came into the game without their top running back and a quarterback that was not only 41 years old but also nursing a knee injury.

It was as lopsided a match-up as possible and so most assumed that the Stamps were going to take their own and the march to a dynasty was going to be one.

That was everyone except for the REDBLACKS who fully believed that they could get by the Stamps in the biggest game of the season.

After all, they were one of the few teams that actually challenged them this year tying the Stamps early in the season.

A motivated team is also dangerous as nobody was giving them a chance and that was enough to motivate them to prove everyone wrong.

That is what they went out to do from the start of the game to the finish as they tried to prove that overlooking them was a mistake.

The first drive set the tone quickly for the REDBLACKS as they kicked the ball off to the Stamps and a team that was used to driving easily downfield got stuffed quickly.

They started with a 2-and-out drive and all of a sudden you could feel that something might be different.

Then the REDBLACKS made sure everyone knew that it was going to be different as they got the ball back and immediately began a long drive that ended with Henry Burris running the ball in on a QB sneak.

It set the tone early as all of a sudden the Stamps were down and had to play from behind against a team that was clearly ready to play their best game of the season.

That situation seemed to make the Stamps panic a bit, something that has rarely been seen, as they started to abandon their running game.

Messam was not getting the great yardage but in a running game, it is the cumulative effect that is the key especially with a back like Messam.football-sidebar

The question heading into the game was how were the REDBLACKS going to stop such a balanced attack.

The Stamps made it easy as they made themselves one-dimensional allowing Ottawa to focus on the passing game and not worry about the running attack.

With Calgary no longer trying to punish them on the ground the passing game came under fire with Ottawa’s rush getting to Mitchell regularly and Mitchell making poor decisions.

Throughout the game, this year’s MOP who had eight interceptions all year threw three in the biggest game and most were either miscommunication with his receivers or just poor decisions.

As Mitchell struggled, Burris put together one of the greatest game of his career throwing the ball all over the field.

He used his great receiving corps perfectly spreading the ball around and by the end of the game he had amassed the fourth-most yards in a Grey Cup game.

In a game that many had pinned as the young QB that could march towards greatness against an old QB ready to walk away the old dog won.

It almost wasn’t to be too as Burris locked up his knee before the game and left warm-ups to get treatment.

He came back and played through the pain which turned out to be the difference in the game as Burris was named Grey Cup MVP for his great performance on the night.

The loss for the Stamps is a big one as they had put together a legendary season with one of the best records in the history of the league.

Yet that will only be a footnote on the 2016 season as they had a great year but it ended just short of winning the ultimate prize.

People won’t talk about how great they were as they will only talk about how close they came to such a great season only to fall short.

For Ottawa, it is possibly the biggest and quickest turnaround in the history of professional sports.

Four years ago when the Grey Cup last travelled to Toronto for the 100th celebration there was no team in Ottawa.

In their first year back in Ottawa they were a typical expansion team sinking to the bottom of the league and only winning one game.

Two seasons later they are the best team in the league bringing a Grey Cup to a fan base that is finally supporting football in the nation’s capital.

After 40 years the Grey Cup is in Ottawa and for the league, it means that the sport may finally survive in one of the most important markets as winning football has returned to Ottawa.

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