JONES: Winnipeg Blue Bombers end lengthy Grey Cup drought
CALGARY — Winnerpeg.
Once again the cure for the condition that had thrice made earned the city the title of Loserpeg, turned out to be the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
In 1958 the Bombers ended a 17-year Grey Cup drought by defeating the Tiger-Cats in the Grand National championship football game.
In 1984 Winnipeg ended a 22-year Grey Cup drought with a win over Hamilton at the big party.
Sunday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Mike O’Shea’s underdog scored a 33-12 win over a team that came on an eight-game winning streak to end another luckless run dating back to 1990.
The theme for the dream for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season was ‘For The W’. And after five previous failures at the Grey Cup since that 1990 victory as an Eastern Conference team over the West champion Edmonton Eskimos, the Bombers got it done and then some.
With the win, Winnipeg became the first team to win all three post-season games on the road, including the Grey Cup, since the 2005 Eskimos.
A lot of people figured, despite being three and-a-half-point underdogs, Winnipeg had a shot in what most expected to be a compelling game. But find a so-called expert who thought they had a shot at a blow out.
The game failed to sellout in McMahon Stadium but not in a way that was embarrassing to the host city. Patches of seats were empty in various corners of different sections, totaling about 1,500 in all but if folks from The Forks knew this was in the cards, something of a replay of Winnipeg’s 35-14 upset win over the Calgary Stampeders in the Western semifinal, there would likely have been a convoy headed down the Trans-Canada Friday to claim the empty pews.
Virtually from the 4:39 p.m. opening kickoff in 4C, bad things began to happen to Hamilton.
Bombers safety Brandon Alexander intercepted the first pass of Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans despite excellent Hamilton pass protection, at the Winnipeg 44 yard line.
Second possession. Another turnover. Willie Jefferson with the sack and forced fumble and Adam Bighill with the recovery followed by a 15-yard carry for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage for a touchdown and the three big name Bombers had already started putting their name on the game.
For a while it looked like Winnipeg wasn’t going to seize the moment served up by the 15-3 Tiger-Cats with the 9-0 record wearing black uniforms.
Hamilton had an 8-3 edge in first downs in the first 15 minutes and were down only 8-6 at one point. In the second half the Bombers had a 11-3 advantage in first downs.
Back-to-back plays by second-string quarterback Chris Steveler to Harris made it 18-6 and the running back that failed to get votes for the CFL Most Outstanding Player Award or a CFLPA All-Star spot had suddenly become a prime candidate for Grey Cup MVP and top Canadian honours.
And Winnipeg made way for Keith Urban at halftime with s 21-6 lead.
I mean, come on.
This was a Tiger-Cat team that going in was being pumped as quite possibly the best team in 150-years of history, including Hamilton Wildcats and Hamilton Tigers before the two teams merged.
Medlock, who hadn’t missed a field goal under 40 yards all year, made one from the 39 to open the second half to extend the lead to 24-6 early in the third quarter and took 12 minutes to get onto the scoreboard to get six back after a failed two-point convert.
Medlock made it four-for-five just before the end of the quarter to make it 27-12.
To not win it at this point, Winnipeg would have to turn into the Blew Bombers.
Medlock ended up equaling a Grey Cup record with six touchdowns, the Bombers ran up their sack total to six and the Tiger-Cats giving up seven turnovers as Winnipeg ended up winning it by 21.
The fourth quarter not only sealed the deal for the Bombers but the MVP and Top Canadian voting as well claiming the first awards sweep triumph, “after all the haters put me down.”
The Bombers used both Winnipeg-born players Harris and Nic Dempsey for all they were with to end the drought.
Harris became only the second Blue Bomber to rush for over 100 yards in a game, Charlie Sheppard doing it back in 1958.
In the end Harris carried 15 times for 127 yards to go with five catches for 39 and nobody could deny him the MVP Award and nobody could deny the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a valid, worthy winner of the 2019 Grey Cup.
Winnipeg ended up putting 33 points on the scoreboard. Appropriately, 33 happens to be the jersey number of Andrew Harris.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019