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Mitchell: No regrets over late interception in Grey Cup

CALGARY — Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell says he has no regrets over his fateful last pass to the end zone in the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.

With the Stampeders down three and in position to tie the game, the Katy, Texas decided to be aggressive, taking a shot in the end zone for receiver Marken Michel. The pass was intercepted by Matt Black, clinching a 27-24 win for the Toronto Argonauts.

“You guys don’t play the game,” Mitchell told reporters back in Calgary, two days after a second straight Grey Cup letdown. “I’ll stand by the decision for the rest of my life. It was the smart play, it was the right play.”


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The Argos’ defensive package saw usual safety Jermaine Gabriel lined up at field corner with Matt Black at safety. The Stampeders’ quarterback had identified a mismatch on that side of the field, with the comparatively slower Gabriel lined up against an explosive Marken Michel.

“I could have taken the sack, something like that,” Mitchell reasoned. “They had a free safety at field corner that wasn’t very fast and we were pretty confident in that position to take a shot with Marken.”

Still, in a week of finger-pointing, with Kamar Jorden accepting the brunt of the blame for his fourth-quarter fumble, Mitchell pointed the finger at himself.

“I just missed the throw,” he said. “If that ball’s three yards further, we’re celebrating and talking about ring sizes and things like that.

“Go back and watch the film,” he added. “I knew it was going to be a riskier throw but I knew I had to put it out there, and as soon as I put it out there I knew I didn’t put enough on it. It was a smart decision, playcall wise, because typically taking those shots you’re either going to get an incompletion, a pass interference or a catch.

“If I put that ball out there further, Marken’s got a chance to make a play on it, we’ve got a shot at a PI and now we’re sitting in the same situation as last year — we’re sitting on the one-yard-line with three downs to go.

“If I put the ball a little further out there we’re good.”

 

The Stampeders returned to McMahon Stadium to clean out their lockers on Tuesday, a little more clear-minded than the moments after Sunday’s loss.

A second straight year of heartbreak will sting all off-season for the Stamps, but for Head Coach Dave Dickenson and General Manager John Hufnagel there’s no time for mourning.

Free agency is in February and the coach-GM duo hopes to bring back as much of this year’s core as possible.

“Hopefully we’ll have as much success as we can to make sure we have a lot of the players back,” said Hufnagel. “We’re crossing our fingers, obviously. There will be some change, but hopefully not too much.”

However, in the salary cap era, bringing back everyone won’t be possible. Three players, Hufnagel said, have already expressed their interest in exploring options south of the border.

One-year contracts mean plenty of movement every off-season, especially for teams as successful as Calgary, where top-performing players have earned bigger paydays.

“There are going to be different names on the back of the jerseys,” said Dickenson. “I do think there are some guys in there that understand we’re a team-first mentality and if they’d like to be part of the horse, contracts and extensions will be issued. I’d love to keep as many of them as I can but let’s be honest, the reality is it’s going to be a different group.

“You try to keep as many of the core as you can and add pieces and go from there.”

 

Whatever happens, June can’t come soon enough for the Calgary Stampeders. While football has the power to break hearts, it also has the power to heal.

For Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell and many others in the Stamps organization, there are many more battles to come.

“I’m not over it, and I didn’t even put in the blood, sweat and tears like these guys,” said Dickenson. “It’s part of history, we ain’t changing it. Take advantage of your day, take advantage of why you’re here and hopefully we can keep as many of these guys together as we can and get up off the ground and live on to fight another battle.”

“It stings, it hurts,” added Mitchell, “but I don’t have time to sit here and sulk and cry about it. I’m ready to get out there, focus on my family going into Christmas and jump back into training right away. I’m ready to start thinking about next season and just getting this out of my head.”

– With files from Stampeders.com