What a season eh BC?
From an unbearable low in the summer to the ultimate high in November. It’s not the Stanley Cup, but Vancouver residents chanted and screamed as their BC Lions completed the turnaround in front of their eyes by decisively winning the 99th Grey Cup.
It wasn’t a pretty game by anyone’s standards, both teams clearly suffered from nerves in the first half and it led to some ugly football.
But when it was all over, the Lions were the champions for the following five reasons:
1. They Won the Quarterback Battle
Both Buck Pierce and Travis Lulay threw 37 times, but Lulay had a higher completion percentage and more yards.
Pierce also threw an interception that proved to be the only turnover of the game. The funny thing is, neither quarterback was spectacular. Pierce routinely struggled to find the open reciever, while Lulay hurt his groin in the second quarter, limiting his mobility.
Besides that, Lulay also threw at least three absolutely BRUTAL passes in the first half, all of which sailed over open reciever who could have picked up vital first downs to keep some early drives alive.
Despite that, Lulay managed to make plays and score enough touchdowns to give the Lions the lead through the entire game.
2. Winnipeg Couldn’t Run the Ball
In last weeks Grey Cup Notebook I said that Winnipeg running back Chris Garrett needed to be contained for the Lions to win this game. Garrett had run for 190 yards in the East final and had been very effective against the Lions in their previous match up.
However, he was totally shut down his game, earning a measly 26 yards.
3. Big Defensive Stops
Without the run game, Winnipeg struggled to move the ball and in the first half repeatedly had two and outs. Credit the Lions defense for covering the field well and making Pierce force throws that he wouldn’t have normally tried.
They only had one sack but brought lots of pressure and prevented the Winnipeg offense from gaining any momentum.
4. A little bit of luck
This game featured not one, but TWO field goals that hit the post.
The difference was, Winnipeg’s went in to keep them competitive in the first half, while BC’s bounced out to prevent them from taking a two score lead in the third quarter.
Fortunately, the Lions were luckier in the fourth quarter when Blue Bomber’s Odell Willis read a screen pass from Lulay and got a hand on the ball with no one between him and the end zone.
However, he bobbled the ball and gave Lions offensive lineman Ben Archibald a chance to bat it out of his hands, saving what would have been a sure touchdown.
5. Knowing it was meant to be
I don’t want to say I predicted this, but the season started to have a sense of inevitability about it when the Lions opened their new stadium with a victory over the Eskimos, a team that at one point was four games ahead of them in the standings.
Buono coached a team that had no business even being in the playoff hunt and found a way to make that team into the overwhelming favorite before the season ended. Lulay, maligned during the first six games when he played terribly, became the CFL MVP and Grey Cup MVP.
If this were the NFL, books would be written about this season. However, bestseller or not, this Lions team came into this game knowing that they were MEANT to win, and simply took care of business.
Congratulations to the team and the entire franchise.
It was fun to watch, and I already can’t wait for next season.