I still can't believe it! The 110th Grey Cup truly delivered and showed how absolutely epic the Canadian Football League is, as this year's title game pitted the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Montréal Alouettes--the first time these two teams are facing each other for all of the marbles. The Alouettes are looking to win their first Grey Cup in 13 years, while the the Blue Bombers are looking to return to the CFL throne and become a dynasty--the first in over 40 years.
The game took place in Hamilton, Ontario for the second time in three seasons, and Winnipeg's first possession ended with a field goal, and after the Als' opening drive resulted in nothing, the Bombers went all the way, with Brady Oliveira (the league leading rusher this season) capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0. It did look like Winnipeg would start to run away with this, until William Stanback racked up a 32-yard running touchdown to put the Alouettes on the board. It was 10-7 after one, and the second quarter's only score belonged to the Bombers; a QB sneak by Dakota Prukop. The score at halftime: Bombers 17, Alouettes 7.
After Green Day performed at halftime, the second half began with the Bombers 30 minutes away from officially becoming a dynasty. The Alouettes would start the third quarter with a score; Cody Fajardo to Cole Spieker to make it a three point game again. Even so, the score held up for the rest of the quarter, bringing the 110th Grey Cup to the fourth and final quarter. Fajardo threw an interception to kick off the fourth, but the Bombers would not score on the takeaway, leading to a punt. This time, the Als would capitalize, as a drive ended with Austin Mack finding the end zone, and just like that, Montréal took their first lead of the contest, with a lot of time left. The Bombers would strike back, as Prukop's second touchdown gave the lead right back to Winnipeg with just over five minutes left. They would get the ball back by the three minute warning after Montréal went two and out, but they failed to seal it.
The Alouettes had one last chance. They didn't need to go all the way, as they were down 24-21. They managed to get to midfield, but a sack put them back on their own side of the field. Fajardo's 13 yard run put them on Winnipeg's side with less than a minute left, and another big fist down put them very close. They were in the red zone. A field goal would force overtime, the second Grey Cup to go to OT in three years, and the third to do so since I started watching the CFL.
What's French for "We don't need no stinkin' field goal!"?!
Fajardo decided to go for it all, and with 11 seconds left, he tossed a bullet pass right to Tyson Philpot in the end zone! Touchdown Alouettes! 28-24 was the score, and there was 8 seconds left when Winnipeg received the ball again. With 4 seconds to go, Zach Collaros tossed a short one that ended up kicked forward (which is legal in the CFL), but once the Als recovered, it was celebration time. The Montréal Alouettes won, 28-24, to win their first Grey Cup since 2010, and overall, it was numéro huit (French for "number eight").
Cody Fajardo was named MVP of this year's Grey Cup, while Tyson Philpot's clutch touchdown earned him the nod of Most Valuable Canadian. This was an amazing game with an even more thrilling result. I don't think anyone had Montréal winning the Grey Cup this year. Those who didn't have the Toronto Argonauts repeating had to have believed that the Bombers would win it this year. Some probably believed that the BC Lions would take it, but not the Alouettes. Yet Montréal did it; they truly shocked the world by ending their season with victories over both of last year's Grey Cup finalists. As for the Blue Bombers, this is their second straight Grey Cup defeat, leaving them with one more chance to become an official dynasty. Remember: a dynasty is defined as having won three championships in five years.
And that's that, the 2023 CFL season has come to a close. We will have to wait until June to watch football with three downs, a 12-man defense, a longer field, and rouges, all of that wonderful stuff. That season will end with the 111th Grey Cup on Sunday, November 17, 2024, which will emanate from Vancouver for the first time in a decade.
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