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HAMILTON — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers could not complete what would have been an era-defining championship run.
Winnipeg was one defensive stop away from winning their third Grey Cup in four seasons, but ultimately was not able to contain Cody Fajardo and the Montreal Alouettes from putting together a game-winning drive with under three minutes left on the clock.
“It’s just so fresh,” said head coach Mike O’Shea to TSN’s Claire Hanna after the 28-24 loss. “It’s really hard to get perspective, that takes time.”
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Winnipeg seemed in control of the game after taking a 17-7 lead into halftime, but saw the Alouettes put together two go-ahead drives in the second half as the defence failed to contain Montreal’s passing game.
Cody Fajardo threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns and featured his top two receivers Austin Mack (six catches, 103 yards, one major) and Tyson Philpot (six catches, 63 yards, one major). Offensively, Winnipeg stuck to their roots by unleashing Brady Oliveira, who ran 19 times for 120 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Zach Collaros had a relatively quiet game by his standards (19/23, 236 yards, one interception).
A back-and-fourth second half ended up favouring the Alouettes, as Philpot – who was named the Most Valuable Canadian – caught the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left in the game.
“I think it was a pretty exciting game for CFL fans,” said O’Shea.
The Bombers now head into the off-season for the second time in two years looking to get over a late-game Grey Cup loss.
“Remains to be seen,” said O’Shea about his team moving on from the loss. “You have to find the reasons why you win or lose and stick to that process.”
Winnipeg has made the Grey Cup in four straight seasons, but after winning the first two, the Blue and Gold have had to deal with coming one game short of their goal for the last couple of years.
“You play to win the last one and we came up short,” said Collaros. “Montreal was a few plays better than us. It’s really sad because there are a lot of good guys in the locker room. Guys that might not be able to play again and you want to win for them.”