Location: Toronto, ON
Date: December 2
Winning Coach: Bud Grant
Most Valuable Player: Ken Ploen, QB, Winnipeg
After a one-year absence, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats renewed their rivalry in the Grey Cup. And for the first time ever, overtime was needed to determine the 1961 national champion.
This game was not for the faint of heart, as pundits considered this one of the hardest hitting Grey Cups in memory. Hamilton fullback Larry Hickman was knocked out of the game with a badly sprained ankle while Winnipeg’s Ray Jauch suffered an Achille’s injury in the first half and did not return.
The Tiger-Cats jumped to an early lead on a big play. Quarterback Bernie Faloney connected on a short pass to Paul Dekker deep in Hamilton territory. With a burst of speed, Dekker outran six Winnipeg defenders for a 90-yard touchdown.
Hamilton had an opportunity to pad its lead heading into halftime, as a pass interference call gave the Tiger-Cats a first down on the Winnipeg one-yard line for the final play of the first half. Instead of attempting a field goal, head coach Jim Trimble opted to go for a touchdown. But there was a misplay on the snap causing a fumble, and Hamilton had to settle for a 7-1 lead after 30 minutes.
Hamilton continued to control the scoreboard in the third quarter, when Ralph Goldston caught a Faloney pass, broke an attempted tackle by Nick Miller, and reached the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Tiger-Cats up 14-4.
The Tiger-Cats then gave way to a punishing Winnipeg offence. Beginning from their own 23-yard line, the Blue Bombers put together a long drive to set up a 28-yard field goal by James.
With less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on second down and 30, Farrell Funston caught a pass from Ken Ploen for a 34-yard gain to the Hamilton five-yard line. James, courtesy of some great blocking, ultimately scored on a one-yard plunge to tie the score at 14.
With no more scoring in regulation, the Tiger-Cats were forced to play their second overtime in a week. Consisting of two 10-minute halves, both teams were scoreless in the first extra session.
It took 73 minutes and two seconds for the Blue Bombers to take the only lead they would need. Ploen evaded three Hamilton defenders en route to an 18-yard game winning touchdown run. James’ convert was his 14th point of the game.