The Bombers’ Gray Cup triumph, the result of the team’s total effort

Did it really happen?

That’s a question I still wonder a few days after the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rallied late to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-25, in overtime to win the 108th Gray Cup at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday. After decades of defeat, the Bombers solidified their reputation as a class in the CFL, back-to-back champions for the first time in team history since the 1961-62 seasons.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Stanley Bryant lifts the Gray Cup after defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 108th CFL Gray Cup in Hamilton on Sunday.


Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Stanley Bryant wins the Gray Cup after defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 108th CFL Gray Cup in Hamilton on Sunday.

Like a bomber, the return required effort in all three phases. From a defense that folded but didn’t break, forcing the Tiger-Cats to score short goals instead of touchdowns; a breach that sprang out of the gate, shoved most of the three-quarters but found its groove when it mattered most; and a group of special teams that scored five field goals and a solid field position.

To call it a classic would be an understatement. And with plenty to uncover last week, along with some extra information ahead of the offseason, here’s the latest installment from CFL Rundown – Gray Cup addition.

1) Anytime you can get a scoreless interception it’s amazing, but you won’t see anything better than the one that crowned the Bombers back-to-back champion. Kyrie Wilson will be credited for the pick, but it was an incredible piece from Winston Rose, who kept the piece alive by knocking it down twice before shoveling it at Wilson. I asked Wilson on Wednesday if the play was intentional, which he said was intentional, although he stopped before saying the two made eye contact first.

2) The Bombers ended the game healthy, with the exception of defenseman Brandon Alexander. Alexander suffered a serious knee injury in the latter part of the game, details of which were not fully disclosed. Here’s a speedy recovery for the CFL’s first star.

3) For those curious as to why left tackle Stanley Bryant was the first to lift the Gray Cup, it’s because at 35, he’s the oldest player on the team. In 2019, he was awarded to D lineman Jake Thomas because he was the oldest serving bomber.

4) Many have taken to social media, including fans and current and former players, to express their frustration that Zach Collaros won the Gray Cup MVP because they felt that his efforts did not deserve. Collaros had a rough start but woke up at the end, ending the night 21 on 32 with a 240-yard pass, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

5) I didn’t have a vote – if there had been a tie, I would have the final say as President of Football Reporters of Canada – but I didn’t, which means Collaros had more than half of the voters. I probably would have voted for Bombers kicker Sergio Castillo, who had a perfect five-for-five on field goal attempts against the Ticats. Talk about showing off when the moment counted the most, and in a team that recycled kickers all season. Darvin Adams (five catches for 61 yards and one touchdown) and Rose, who stifled the Tiger-Cats’ attempt in the third and short, would also have been strongly considered.

6) The CFL dodged a ball with Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli snubbed after losing his Tiger-Cats. It has long been said that Masoli, who would have been named MVP if Hamilton had won, wasn’t vaccinated and the optics of a player not receiving the jab and winning the game’s top prize wouldn’t have been great.

7) Talk about the timing. The CFL kicked off the Gray Cup just before Ontario imposed its latest health restrictions due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday limited theaters to over 1,000 to 50 percent capacity.

8) Much has been said that Tim White conceded just one late in the fourth quarter, giving the Bombers a 25-23 basket. Word is White was asked to decide based on what he saw from the cover crew and if he felt he would be stuck deep he had to take the knee. It was a pivotal moment in the game, as Hamilton continued to walk the field, only to score a 13-yard field goal to equalize. I was also told that the Tiger-Cats were thinking of a touchdown or bust on the disc because they didn’t trust kicker Michael Domagala to do a big kick in the wind.

9) Gray Cup TV numbers showed the lowest number of viewers on record, with 2.883 million people tapping into the game and just 821,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 54. This grand total represents a decrease of 22% compared to 2019.

10) Sportsnet’s Arash Madani reported early Sunday that the Edmonton Elks are interested in having O’Shea their next general manager and head coach. Although O’Shea has one year left on his current contract, as it would be a vertical move, he could take it if he was interested as long as he had permission from the Bombers.

11) While I can’t imagine O’Shea trading blue and gold for green and yellow, you must be wondering what a big pay raise could do to change the situation. But while the money certainly speaks, it’s unclear how the Elks will be able to dip into their pockets as they still have to pay the remaining years on former general manager Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo.

12) The reality is that if it isn’t Edmonton, it will be somewhere else. What O’Shea did to raise the bar for the Bombers has made him the most wanted man in the CFL. He’s going to deserve a raise and how he gets it will be the most interesting part of the offseason.

13) DC Richie Hall, OC Buck Pierce and STC Paul Beaudreau are all without a contract for next season, and you must think they will all be back. Hall told me he is in good health and would like to come back, Pierce has done an amazing job in his first full year with the attack and is in no rush to go anywhere else and Beaudreau has the utmost respect from O’Shea.

14) The biggest question raised during Wednesday’s meeting was how many players the Bombers are going to be able to sign for next season. Right now, only a handful of players are on contract for 2022, with the most notable being veterans Nic Demski, Darvin Adams and Wilson, as well as rookies Deatrick Nichols and DeAundre Alford.

15) Of all the players yet to be signed, I think the biggest question mark is defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. Jeffcoat had his best season in 2021, where he was named CFL All-Star for the first time and was in contention for the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. When I asked him about it, he said he loved Winnipeg and all it had to offer, but was not overly committed. It would be hard to lose.

16) Collaros will be the biggest recruit this winter. We saw what the Bombers are like when he’s not in the lineup and it’s not pretty. Don’t expect Collaros to use all of his power, because I think he really wants to be back, but he won’t be cheap.

17) Be a fly on the wall for Adam Bighill’s next contract. If you recall, Bighill was forced to restructure his contract during the offseason, taking a pay cut of more than half of his $ 260,000 salary to stay in Winnipeg. Bighill paid off that by earning the CFL’s top defensive player and has been a big part of the winning culture. He has ties to Winnipeg, but he’s going to have to take care of him.

18) Even Alford and Nichols aren’t guaranteed to return. It’s not often that a rookie defensive back is named all-star, let alone two members of the same team. They should both get glances from the NFL, as well as wide receiver Kenny Lawler, defensive end Jonathan Kongbo and offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais.

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Jeff hamilton

Jeff hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a series of injuries while playing hockey, including fractures to the wrist, arm and collarbone; a tear in the medial collateral ligament of both knees; along with a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to show his interest in sports off the ice and in the classroom.

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