The difficult thing about breaking down a Grey Cup versus say Week 12 of the season is that every writer is naturally focusing on just one game which often can lead to overlap. So I thought I’d give you a quick (sort of), easy to follow guide to what we saw on Sunday.
(1) Overall I can only give the Grey Cup a solid B. Considering how great their last three match-ups were I think we all expected a more riveting game between Saskatchewan and Montreal. If it wasn’t for Durant’s late touchdown pass to Marc ‘The TD Maker’ Parenteau this game would’ve been a dud. Hey it happens all the time in championship games in all sports, again we’ve just been spoiled recently.
(2) Speaking of Parenteau, loved the ‘pretend the ball is a can of beer’ touchdown celebration! It’s been a long time since I saw someone pull that one off.
(3) Where was Weston Dressler? After killing the Alouettes during the regular season Dressler was non-existent on Sunday. All the credit in the world has to go to Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Tim Burke. Montreal had been susceptible to the big play all year but this time around they put the clamps on Dressler.
(4) Sticking with this theme for a moment I was looking at my milk carton and saw a picture of Andy Fantuz on it. Yes he had that big catch to set up the Parenteau score, but the 2010 receiving leader, just like Dressler, had little impact on the game. By the way, do cartons of milk still have pictures of lost children on it? The brilliance of Montreal’s defensive schemes forced Durant to constantly look for Cary Koch, Jason Clermont and Chris Getzlaf. This is not a knock on them, they are solid receivers, but there’s a reason why Saskatchewan could not produce any big plays through the air.
(5) I loved the shot of Stephen Harper sitting in the crowd with David Braley.
(6) I’ll be getting to Durant in a moment.
(7) S.J. Green is getting better with every game. His non-catch late in the 2nd quarter was still exciting. Green proved he is more than just a speed burner. Green showed great patience, finding holes in the Rider zone and providing Anthony Calvillo with a reliable target.
(8) Speaking of guys just exploding, Jerrell Freeman put together another great game. He started the second quarter with a sack and a well timed pass deflection.
(9) I’m glad that the officials called the offside penalty on Fantuz one play before ‘The Interception’. I’ve ripped the officials for turning a blind eye to blatant abuses of offside and if ever there was a time to swallow the whistle it would have been with less than two minutes left in the game. But come on, Fantuz was practically hanging around the goal line when the ball was snapped.
(10) The worst part of the game had nothing to do with football, but rather the news of Leslie Nielsen’s sudden death. Let me just say this, if anyone doesn’t find ‘Airplane I’ and ‘Airplane II’ really funny I will find you and I will punch you in the throat. That movie is like comedy cheesecake, just so rich and densely filled with about 75 jokes a minute.
(11) I really wanted to make fun of BTO at the half, but they did a solid job for who they are. It was nowhere near the disaster of The Who at last year’s Super Bowl. I was really hoping they would come on stage and announce there would be no ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ as they were strictly performing some of their new songs. I’m confident the crowd would have immediately rushed the stage and threatened them with death if they didn’t start playing ‘Taking care of business’.
(12) Not to be a snob but couldn’t the Alouettes have sprung for a better victory drink than Henkell Trocken? It’s like $15 a bottle! Do the repeat Grey Cup champions not deserve a higher quality sparkling wine?
(13) I counted only one time where Jamel Richardson was tackled cleanly. Richardson was a tour de force who demands double teams and about seven defenders to bring him down.
(14) Now with that said I would have given the MVP to Billy Parker. Not only did he make the biggest play of the game but he effectively shut down Chris Getzlaf who, as I mentioned earlier, was being targeted a great deal with Fantuz and Dressler taken out of the game.
(15) Next to ‘The Interception’ the biggest play by far was Eric Deslauriers’ 10 yard run on the fake punt early in the third quarter. Yes the drive would only lead to a field goal but after the Deslauriers run Montreal ripped off ten more plays and bled over five minutes of clock. Saskatchewan only ran eight plays for the entire quarter as Montreal just sapped all the energy out of the Roughriders defence and ensured that Durant never got in synch.
(16) All right let’s talk about Durant for a moment. First did anyone else have shades of Eli Manning to David Tyree after Durant had gotten free from the Montreal rush? Unfortunately for Durant he didn’t manage to find Cary Koch with a desperate heave in the middle of the field. That was a brutal decision by Durant, but I do understand it, sort of. He was trying to throw the ball away and avoid a 2nd and 16 with under a minute to go at around his own 20 yard line. But at a time like that you just have to stay alive, take the sack and keep fighting.
That was the kind of pass Argonaut fans have seen all year from Cleo Lemon. His biggest problem on Sunday was his inability to make big plays down the field and that he only ran the ball one time. With all his top targets bottled up Durant had to start making big plays with his legs and never did. Funny that the CFL’s leader in receiving yardage ended with 66 yards and that the quarterback with the most rushing yards in the regular season only put up eight yards on the ground. The biggest positive you can take if you’re a Roughrider fan is that Durant has been a starter for two years and both times his year ended in the Grey Cup. He is only going to get better from here.
(17) Now let’s talk for a second about Anthony Calvillo’s legacy. As I was writing this column I had TSN on in the background when the news of Anthony Calvillo and his upcoming thyroid surgery came on the screen. For Calvillo to put together another Grey Cup victory with that reality looming in his mind is unbelievable. I, like everyone else, only wish him the best and hope for the best possible news and for the quickest recovery.
With the victory over Saskatchewan Calvillo has now entered in the conversation for the greatest ever. Not Top-10. He’s been on that list for a little while now. I know that we live in an age of short term memory where we tend to hype up today’s star while turning a blind eye to yesterday’s heroes. But Calvillo will soon own every important passing record in CFL history. Throw in his three Grey Cup wins and his three CFL Most Outstanding Player Awards and how can he not be on the short list of the best ever? Here’s hoping Calvillo makes a full recovery to shatter all the records in 2011.