TORONTO — After a season full of record breaking performances, the time has finally come for two teams to battle it out for the coveted Grey Cup.
The Calgary Stampeders clash with the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Sunday for the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw at BMO Field, where both teams will fight to raise the trophy when the final whistle blows.
After finishing the 2016 CFL season as the league’s top team with a 15-2-1 record, Calgary will be looking to put a stamp on their stellar season with a Grey Cup victory. Led by Bo Levi Mitchell, who took home the Most Outstanding Player award this week, the Stamps will be looking to keep their league leading offence rolling.
Jerome Messam leads the way on the ground, while DaVaris Daniels and Marquay McDaniel anchor the aerial attack. It’ll be up to the REDBLACKS’ defence to plow through Calgary’s offensive line – an offensive line that allowed Mitchell to be sacked just 20 times all season – if they want to stifle the regular season’s league-leading rusher and second-leading passer.
Ottawa, making their second Grey Cup appearance in as many years, has been slated as the underdog for Sunday’s game, but the veteran pivot behind centre has other ideas about his club’s chances at winning the trophy. 41-year-old Henry Burris will be leading the charge for the REDBLACKS’ offence, as they face one of the toughest defences in the CFL that includes 2016’s sack leader Charleston Hughes.
Burris will have Kienan LaFrance – who emerged during last week’s Eastern Final rushing for over 150 yards and had a major score – to work with out of the backfield and three of his four receivers to surpass the 1000 yards mark – Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli and Ernest Jackson – to work with come Sunday.
Will the Stampeders end their prolific 2016 season with a Grey Cup victory? Or will the underdogs take the trophy back home to Ottawa?
Canadian talent: Kienan LaFrance ran five times for 42 yards and a touchdown on the final drive and 157 yards in total on 25 carries. Prior to the game, LaFrance had just 180 career rushing yards including only six yards in his previous eight games (OTT record: Skip Walker 253 yds). Only Lorne Benson with a 162-yard day in 1953 for Winnipeg has had more rushing yards in a playoff game by any player born in Canada.
Make it count: Greg Ellingson was limited to a single catch but that counted for a 26-yard TD that opened the scoring.
Strong defence: Ottawa held Adarius Bowman to just three receptions for 70 yards and John White to 66 rushing (he had 160 in Edmonton’s Semi-Final win)
Fast start: Calgary led 32-0 at half-time – their 32-point margin matched the largest half-time lead by any CFL club in a playoff game in league history. Calgary rolled up 334 yards of offence in the first half alone to BC’s 154.
100: DaVaris Daniels caught four passes for 107 yards, the only receiver to go over 100 in the two Division Finals that day.
No sack attack: For the 10th time this season, the Stampeders did not allow a single quarterback sack and had just four two-and-outs.
Ball control: Ottawa has a current streak of 8 games in a row with a higher Time of Possession averaging 31:40 and 6 more plays.
Yards on yards: Ottawa is only the 16th team to ever pass for 6,000+ yards in a single season (only Ottawa and Edmonton have done it since 2004).
Repeat offender: This will be Calgary’s second Grey Cup appearance in the last five years; the last time they did that was 1998, 1999 & 2001. Calgary has lost only 13 regular season games in the last four years – three of those 13 defeats came after clinching first place. Calgary has now been in the West Division Final 8 times in the last 9 years and proceeded on to the Grey Cup 4 times.
Fast starts: No opponent scored more than nine points in the first quarter this season vs. Calgary and the Stamps edge was 138-58. They led after the first quarter this season 15 times in 18 games and are 46-8 since 2012 when leading after 15:00 of play. They led BC once
again after 15:00 in last week’s win.
Turnovers: 31-0-1: Calgary has a remarkable streak going in which they are unbeaten in the last 31 games when they have made fewer turnovers than their opponents. They have not lost a game with fewer turnovers since November 1/13 at BC.
Another possibly “Team 100”?: becoming a starter in Game #10, Alex Singleton had 47 defensive tackles – that is a pace for just short of 100 over a full year.
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