SIMMONS: Bombers absolutely dominate, ending drought, in Grey Cup victory
CALGARY – Looking a lot like Mike O’Shea without the beard, playing like O’Shea, outworking, outhitting and out-scheming the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the 107th Grey Cup without any real doubt.
It was that one-sided. It was that complete for a Bombers team that won road games in Calgary and Regina before finishing off at McMahon Stadium with a 33-12 win over the favoured Ticats. It was that physically one-sided.
The win was the first championship for O’Shea as a head coach after winning Grey Cups as both an assistant coach and player in Toronto. The way O’Shea played linebacker in the CFL, tough, smart, overly prepared was almost precisely how the Bombers dominated Sunday night’s Grey Cup game.
There was no drama. There was no great CFL finish. There was nothing to distinguish this championship game other than the dominance of one impressive team. It wasn’t necessarily memorable, unless you’re a long-suffering Bombers fan, but it was that overwhelming.
THE MVP AND MORE
A coach can’t win the MVP in a championship game but if he could the award could have gone to a combination of O’Shea, the head coach, and his coordinators Paul LaPolice on offence, Richie Hall on defence.
So instead, Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris, who missed two games during the season for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, wound up in a rare position as MVP of the game and Top Canadian.
Harris scored a running touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the first half, clearly establishing himself as the Winnipeg player to watch. He ended up with 127 yards rushing and six catches for 35 yards – that’s 162 yards in total.
Harris was not voted to the CFL Players’ Association all-star team and nor was he voted Winnipeg’s player of the year or top Canadian because of his positive test. He certainly had something to prove with all the controversy surrounding him heading into this game.
TALE OF TWO QBS
Are two quarterbacks better than one?
They certainly were on Sunday night.
Zach Collaros started at quarterback for Winnipeg, which does the highly unusual: It plays two quarterbacks regularly, rotating Collaros with Chris Streveler, not in any way that’s necessarily predictable. Collaros is the more accomplished passer. Streveler is the more powerful runner. The Bombers did a sharp job of rotating the two. By halftime, the two had completed 15 of 19 passes for 134 yards, while Streveler himself had rushed for 17 yards.
Whomever made the quarterbacking decisions, be it head coach Mike O’Shea or veteran offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice, their timing seemed rather impeccable Sunday night.
At various times throughout the game, Collaros looked hurt as did Streveler, who just kept coming back.
On the other hand, Hamilton starter Dane Evans looked shaky almost from the beginning of the game. He was intercepted early in the game, fumbled on the team’s second possession. It was hardly how he wanted his first championship game to start. He finished the first half completing seven of 12 passes for just 94 yards.
The Ticats didn’t do a lot right offensively in the game but a fake field goal called by special teams coach Jeff Reinebold was one of Hamilton’s best plays of the night. The second half fake led to a touchdown catch by Bralon Addison … Attendance at McMahon Stadium was 35,439. The game was not a sellout … This game was dubbed the Drought Bowl, named for how long Hamilton and Winnipeg have been without a CFL championship. It’s 20 years for Hamilton without a Cup and heading into Sunday night, 29 years for the Bombers … Tough night for Brandon Banks, the CFL‘s most outstanding player. He was injured in the first quarter and injured again in the third quarter. He never did return after that. He ended up with 68 yards in total offence … Defensive player of the year, Willie Jefferson, had a more prominent night than Banks, the offensive player of the year. Banks left the game in the third quarter with another injury … Ticats turned the ball over three times in the first quarter and were fortunate to only be trailing 8-3 at the end of the quarter and five times on the night. They lost the ball on an interception, a fumble and a turnover on downs, failing to convert a third down with half a yard to go. The opportunity was there for Ticats to get more in the game in the second quarter, but without turning the ball over, Winnipeg outscored Hamilton 13-3 in the second quarter … The Hamilton defence line, one of the Ticats strengths all year long, was manhandled by the Bombers. Hamilton only scored one touchdown – you can’t win a championship doing that.
Much has been said about the CFL’s 2.0 strategy, with the inclusion of Global players in the Canadian game. But in Grey Cup 107, Winnipeg’s Thiadric Hansen of Germany made an impressive special teams tackle, even if was partially physical and partially accidental. Hansen ran through a Hamilton blocker and smashed his way through to make an impressive if not awkward tackle. Somewhere commissioner Randy Ambrosie was smiling … I’m not saying the press box seating at McMahon was tight, but I thought it was sponsored by Air Canada Rouge … Game official Andre Proulx had a tough time explaining calls on the stadium microphone. He was clearly losing his voice throughout the game … Would like to let you know what kind of halftime show Keith Urban put on because I haven’t heard a Keith Urban song before – but the fans at McMahon sure seemed to like it … Nic Demski dropped a first half touchdown pass for Winnipeg. If he’d caught the ball, the Bombers would have led by 19 at the half … Hamilton opened last week as a two-point favourite when the betting line first came, but by game time the line was closer to four.