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The Greatest Grey Cups in CFL History

From the underdogs to coaching battles and to snow storms, here are some of the best moments in the Canadian Football League’s biggest game.

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The 77th Grey Cup in 1989. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders

By: Victoria Femia

It’s that time of the year again. The weather is getting colder, Christmas is around the corner and the Grey Cup is just days away. For CFL fans, it’s Canada’s greatest week.

The 2019 Grey Cup will consist of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats taking on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Though this looks to be a good game, there have been some pretty great Grey Cups over the years. 

It was 1989, the 77th Grey Cup, Hamilton Ticats taking on the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The game was played in Toronto at the Skydome, this was the first Grey Cup game held at the stadium as it opened in June 1989. 

After an up and down regular season, finishing 9-9 on the year, the Roughriders made the playoffs and were looked at as underdogs. On the other hand, the Tiger-Cats had seven all-stars in their lineup and it was assumed that it’d be a huge blowout for Hamilton.

Hamilton took an early 6-0 lead when Paul Osbaldiston kicked his first two field goals, while Saskatchewan’s offense was struggling. 

But suddenly the Roughriders offense seem to come to life mid second quarter when QB, Kent Austin had completed touchdown passes to Ray Elgaard, Jeff Fairholm and Donald Narcisse. On the last play of the second quarter, Dave Ridgway came on the field to attempt his first field goal of the game, a 50-yarder to pull the game within two. He missed the field-goal and Hamilton led the game 27-22.

Heading into the fourth quarter with just two minutes left to go the Riders went ahead 40-33 after Ridgway kicked his third field goal of the day. Hamilton refused to quit, QB Mike Kerrigan sent the ball to wide receiver Tony Champion who made an incredible catch to tie it 40-40 with under a minute left in the game. 

Overtime was on the horizon but the Riders had the ball with a chance to win in regulation. With just 44 seconds left on the game clock, Riders QB Kent Austin completed three passes for 48 yards to position his team for the winning field goal at Hamilton’s 26-yard line with nine seconds remaining in the game.

Then “The Kick” happened. 

Dave Ridgway drilled the kick through the uprights to give Saskatchewan its first Grey Cup championship in 23 years.

Fast forward 7 years later, the 84th Grey Cup, otherwise known as the Snow Bowl. It was 1996 and the game was played between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.

The temperature at game time was -10 °C, with 20 km/h winds and heavy snow. Tractors had to remove snow from the field prior to the game, as well as at halftime.

Edmonton led in the first quarter from a safety touch conceded by Toronto quarterback Doug Flutie and a 64-yard touchdown pass from Danny McManus to “Eddie Brown”. It was a shoestring catch that slipped through his hands then bounced off his right thigh and left shin before he caught it on the fly. It is considered to be one of the most memorable plays in Grey Cup history. 

But Toronto took the lead 27-23 at halftime.

Two field goals from Mike Vanderjagt were all the scoring in the first 23 minutes of the second half as Toronto receiver Jimmy Cunningham dropped certain touchdown passes in the third and fourth quarters.

Then a play that led to a controversial win. A third-down gamble in which Flutie fumbled the snap but was ruled not only to have retained possession but to have gained a first down. Their drive extended, the Argonauts increased their lead to 36-30 on Vanderjagt’s 27-yard field goal.

Toronto’s Adrion Smith iced the win, returning a Danny McManus interception 49 yards for a touchdown with under 2 minutes remaining.

Some honorable mentions are when the 1988 Winnipeg Blue Bombers made it to the Grey Cup despite a .500 record in the regular season. They went on the beat the B.C Lions by a single point.

Or in 2005 when the Edmonton Eskimos took on the Montreal Alouettes.

Montreal’s head coach Don Matthews, seeking a record sixth Grey Cup title and Edmonton’s Danny Maciocia in his rookie year. Edmonton won it 38-35 in overtime. 

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