By Jim Bender
CJOB’s Doug Brown suggested that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a “dynasty” in the making.
In the aftermath of the Bombers needing overtime to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-25 in the Grey Cup Game, Brown got caught up in the moment of Winnipeg’s first back-to-back CFL championship since the early 1960s.
“This is a start of a dynasty,” Brown, a Bombers/CFL Hall-of-Famer, said on CJOB’s post-game show. “When you win two in a row, it’s something that doesn’t happen very often. Winning two in a row is the start of something.”
The Bombers last won back-to-back Cups in 1961-62 and 1958-59 before that, but have never won three straight.
The Bombers rebounded from a 22-10 deficit to pull out the victory. They used the strong wind to out-score Hamilton 18-6 in the fourth quarter to send the game into extra time. Winnipeg actually took a 25-22 lead in the fourth quarter but, after the defence held the Ticats offence at their own six, Michael Domagala kicked a 13-yard field goal with four seconds left to force the OT.
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros, who was named MVP, completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to receiver Darvin Adams in OT, then hit receiver Rasheed Bailey for the two-point convert. Linebacker Kyrie Wilson then salted the game away with an interception after the Hamilton offence got the ball in OT.
“We went through some adversity,” Collaros, also the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player, told TSN. “I threw some pics that put us in bad spots. But I’ve never been around a team like this. It’s just an amazing group.”
Collaros completed 21 of 32 passes for 240 yards and two TDs and the two interceptions.
“What a great game for the fans,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea, who has never lost a Grey Cup Game in six tries (two as head man). “But we never thought of it as a repeat. It was never about back-to-back, it was about 2021.”
The Bombers posted the best record in the CFL, clinching top spot in the CFL West long before the playoffs.
“We showed that we were the team to beat and that we were the team that couldn’t be beat,” said Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player who had five defensive tackles.
The Ticats have not won the Cup since 1999, currently the longest drought in the CFL.
“Super disappointment for everybody in there (locker room), the city, the organization,” said an emotional Hamilton head coach Orlondo Stainauer. “It’s just a tough time.”
Collaros had also connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to slotback Nic Demski, the Cup\s top Canadian, in the fourth quarter, which had pulled the Bombers to within 22-20 with Sergio Castillo’s convert. Castillo kicked a single on the ensuing kickoff to make the score 22-21 Hamilton. Castillo followed up with a 44-yard field goal to give Winnipeg a 24-22 lead. Hamilton conceded a single on the following kickoff to give the Bombers a 25-22 lead.
Castillo had also kicked field goals of 38, 34 and 16 yards while punter Marc Liegghio booted a 70-yard single.
Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who replaced injured starter Dane Evans, early in the game, completed 20 of 25 passes for 185 yards, including TD tosses of 12 yards to receiver Steven Dunbar and 11 yards to receiver Brandon Banks, and the one game-ending pick.
“Jeremiah had an unbelievable game,” Collaros said.
Evans completed four of nine passes for 24 yards and one interception before leaving the game with what appeared to be a neck injury.
Domagala, who converted both TDs, also had field goals of 13 and 10 yards. The Bombers also conceded a safety touch.
Now, did anyone say ‘Three-peat’?