CFL Pass

2015 CFL playoffs: And Then There Were Two

Proud.

That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think about the Canadian Football League tonight. I’m just so damn proud to be a fan.

Drama.

That’s exactly what we want and that’s exactly what we got. Most people wrote the Hamilton Tiger-Cats off as they headed into a sold-out TD Place to play the improbable Ottawa RedBlacks but the game was one botched interception away from Hamilton’s third straight Grey Cup appearance.

I can’t imagine Arnaud Gascon-Nadon feels very well right now but it’s just another heartbreaker for the Tabbies. No different than last year. The ball was *in* his hands. The Grey Cup was in sight ... but it wasn’t Hamilton’s night. The very next play had a bobbled high snap to Henry Burris, who recovered for the game-winning 93-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ellingson against his former team. Ottawa wins 35-28.

Hollywood couldn’t have written a better ending.

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A big screen showing the East Final outside of Commonwealth Stadium had CFL fans entertained long before they know what would happen in the West Final.

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Even some Jedi Masters enjoyed $5 beers at the tailgate, as Ottawa and Hamilton pumped everyone up.

If there’s one thing I knew heading into the Battle of Alberta between the Stampeders and Eskimos, it was that there wouldn’t be 76 points scored in the game. Wait, what?

This game was nothing short of intense. Clearly these two teams have a *strong* dislike for each other because after what seemed like every play, there was some sort of scrap that needed to be split up.

But Edmonton had a 45-15 lead in the fourth quarter. I don’t even think the Eskimos thought they could manhandle the Stampeders like that. Any other team would have folded up like a cheap tent but not Calgary. They’re different.

The Stampeders fought back to within fourteen points and were an illegal block to the face penalty away from being down just seven. The penalty halted Calgary’s comeback in its tracks, but I can tell you the Eskimo Empire was sitting on pins and needles before that moment.

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The 34,000+ fans in attendance brought their “A” game: It was definitely the loudest I’ve heard Commonwealth since the 2010 Grey Cup when the Riders fell to the Alouettes. There were moments in the game when the officials on the field seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing but not only did the teams overcome those distractions, the fans did too.

The cheering didn’t stop all game long and it prompted the in-game host to remind fans that when the Esks are on offense, it’s actually preferred that they stay *quiet*. Eskimos win, 45-31.

I’m sure the party is still raging on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.

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There’s been a lot of negative talk surrounding the Canadian Football League lately whether it’s regarding officiating, fan interest or attendance. I don’t know what happened, but I got the feeling that everything has changed over the past couple days. I feel like no matter how hard someone tries to put down our league, our November traditions will always shine.

Four great teams showed up today and gave us a day of amazing football. The Stampeders, Eskimos, Tiger-Cats, and RedBlacks rose above everything and showed everyone what CFL Football is all about. *This* is the football we were supposed to get when the new rules came into place in June.

While Ottawa and Edmonton celebrated Sunday away, they now prepare to face each other for the 103rd Grey Cup in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s the first time Ottawa and Edmonton have played in the big game since 1981 and this means every team will have played for the Grey Cup since 2010. Believe it or not, Montreal now has the longest Grey Cup appearance drought.

Ottawa got out to a 20-1 lead at halftime in the 69th Grey Cup before Edmonton stormed back to win the game on a last second field goal to win 26-23. But this isn’t Warren Moon vs. J.C. Watts: This is Mike Reilly vs. Henry Burris, and both quarterbacks are playing incredible football. Both teams are the top dogs in their division and both coaches are up for Coach of the Year. Sunday’s Grey Cup promises to be one for the ages.

– written by Travis Currah