Roughriders win 95th Grey Cup Game
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have come full circle in their quest for Canadian football’s most coveted prize.
Eighteen years after winning their last Grey Cup at Toronto’s SkyDome, the Riders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-19 on Sunday to capture the trophy on the same field at Rogers Centre.
It is Saskatchewan’s third Grey Cup win and their first since 1989, when Dave Ridgway’s last minute field goal earned a 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The first quarter was a low-scoring affair, with the Riders held pointless after kicker Luca Congi missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt early in the stanza.
The Bombers got their offence going from there, with defensive back Greg Moss picking off Riders quarterback Kerry Joseph for the first interception of the game. Joseph did not throw a single interception in two games against the Bombers in the regular season.
Bombers quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie then grabbed the spotlight, leading a seven-play, 61-yard drive – including 16 and 42-yard bombs down the middle to Milt Stegall – which led to a 15-yard field goal by Troy Westwood.
After a couple of Winnipeg safeties conceded by Jamie Boreham in the second quarter, the Riders continued to struggle on offence. Joseph ran for 25 yards and hit D.J. Flick with a long pass to get into into the red zone later on, but a fumble recovery by Bombers linebacker Ike Charlton in the end zone left them scoreless.
Saskatchewan finally got in the game on Winnipeg’s next possession, Dinwiddie’s pass intended for Stegall was picked off by defensive back James Johnson for a 30-yard interception return.
Starting at their own 21-yard line, the Riders capped off the second quarter on a high note. They took advantage of a 24-yard reception by Wes Cates and an 18-yard pass to Andy Fantuz for a 45-yard field goal by Congi to lead by three at the half.
The Bombers’ offence in the third quarter was a roller coaster ride to say the least.
The struggles started at 1:51 of the stanza when Saskatchewan lineman John Chick sacked Dinwiddie and forced a fumble recovery for Rider teammate Scott Schultz. Congi split the uprights from 17 yards out for a 13-7 lead. Dinwiddie settled down on the very next possession, hitting receiver Derick Armstrong for a 50-yard touchdown and a 14-13 Winnipeg lead. But later in the quarter, the former Boise State star was picked off by again by Johnson and Congi’s third field goal of the game put the Riders ahead by two.
Joseph hit Fantuz with a 29-yard touchdown pass – and the Riders’ first offensive touchdown of the game – to pad the lead by nine.
The Bombers showed plenty of fight and came right back, closing the gap with a safety and Westwood’s second field goal of the night.
But with just under a minute left in the game, Johnson picked off Dinwiddie again for his third interception of the game and a Rider victory.
Led by the league’s most outstanding player in Joseph, the Riders are in their first Grey Cup since 1997, when they lost lost 47-23 to the Toronto Argonauts.
In a storyline that has been stretched out well over the last seven days, Dinwiddie made his first career start on the CFL’s biggest stage. He got the start after No. 1 quarterback Kevin Glenn broke his left arm in last weekend’s 19-9 East Division final against the Toronto Argonauts.
No quarterback has ever made his first start in the Grey Cup or Super Bowl.
The Bombers are looking for their 11th Grey Cup title, with their last championship won 17 years ago to the day – a 50-11 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on November 25, 1990. Their last appearance in the Grey Cup was at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in 2001, when they lost 27-19 to the Calgary Stampeders.
The Riders were 11-point favourites, mainly because of Glenn’s injury.
Roughriders win 95th Grey Cup Game