What I love the most about looking back at famous Grey Cups, in conjunction with CFL.ca releasing every Grey Cup for our viewing pleasure, is I get to learn new things about past championships and also, I get reminded of pivotal storylines that I completely forgot about.
Take the game I am going to review: the 2005 Grey Cup that saw Edmonton defeat Montreal 38-35 in overtime. As years pass you just remember it as being a super exciting game between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and you giggle at the memory of rookie Edmonton coach Danny Maciocia prematurely celebrating thinking the game was over after a Anthony Calvillo incomplete pass on second down in overtime.
However, what I forgot was the biggest subplot of the game was the possibility of Ricky Ray being pulled. You look at the final numbers (359 yards, 78% completion, two touchdowns with no interceptions) and you would be confused that was even a possibility. But as you watch this game you are reminded that Jason Maas replaced Ray in both playoff games and had led his team to winning touchdown drives. With Ray getting knocked around all game, the possibility of Ray being pulled for Maas felt like it could happen.
This was a wild Grey Cup that went from a defensive battle to a shootout and marked the first time in 44 years that the last game of the season went into overtime. It was also the first time a Grey Cup was available for high-definition television and considering how this game played out the timing couldn’t have been better.
So again, for those of you who don’t have three hours to spare here are the highlights of a game chalked full of highlights.
4:30 — Let’s get started with the coin toss featuring Commissioner Tom Wright and Prime Minister Paul Martin. I’m not sure what the problem is but it’s taking way too long to execute. At one point the very angry coin toss coordinator barks “Guys back off!!” to both sides, who are spending a great deal of time shaking everyone’s hand. Most disturbing is there’s a giant bird mascot representing the Alouettes who is just roaming around way too closely to the Prime Minister. Is there any security here??
5:48 — The coaching contrast could not be any more pronounced. In one corner is baby-faced Danny Maciocia in his first year as Edmonton’s coach. In the other corner is stone faced, grizzled veteran Don Matthews, who is in his record ninth Grey Cup appearance.
7:00 — CBC announcers Mark Lee and Chris Walby start highlighting the biggest subplot of this game, the recent poor play of Ricky Ray. Did you know that up until this point Ray had gone seven games without throwing a touchdown pass? Me neither. Edmonton isn’t even in this game without the heroics of Jason Maas throughout the playoffs. Will we see Maas on the field? Stick around!
8:40 — Hey, look, there’s Ed Philion breaking through two linemen for an early sack on Ray. Ricky getting hit will be a theme throughout this one. Also, on a side note, Ed needs a bigger helmet. That’s a minimum sized helmet trying to hold in a maximum sized head.
17:00 — This is football nerdy to say but it bears repeating, I miss seeing quarterbacks under centre. I just noticed Calvillo with his hands where they rightfully belong, uncomfortably close to his centre’s butt awaiting the snap.
29:45 — At the end of a boring, low-event first quarter Edmonton leads 3-1.
30:30 — Now this is why you need to watch the entire game. There’s Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliott Friedman interviewing the Grand Marshall for the 2005 Grey Cup, Pamela Anderson! We learn that Pamela got her big break at BC Place when “talent” scouts from Playboy spotted her on the Jumbotron during a CFL game. Pamela mentions she just bought property on Vancouver Island. That was back in 2005, that land must be worth a fortune right now. I could have used 20 more minutes of this slightly awkward exchange over Ray throwing 10-straight passes into the flat.
31:30 — I totally forgot that Joe Montford ended his career in Edmonton. There is something strange about seeing him in that uniform.
36:40 — The streak is over! Ray has thrown a touchdown pass! There was nothing remarkable on this play as Ray rolls out to his right and tosses a short pass to an open Ed Hervey, who makes a quick move into the end zone.
52:25 — This has not been a good first half for Anthony Calvillo. Trying to force a pass into a well-covered Kerry Watkins leads to an interception by Shannon Garrett. It was out of character to see the 2017 Hall of Famer throw into such a busy zone.
Quick halftime thought:
This has been a defensive struggle with Edmonton up 10-1. Both defensive units deserve credit as this first half is not just about poor offensive execution. The most obvious difference in how the game was played back in 2005 is the number of times quarterbacks got hit after releasing the ball without an ensuing penalty. It’s not like the officials are allowing the passer to get decapitated on every down, just that back then defensive players were allowed to hit the passer a beat after the throw.
1:03:20 — Here Steve Armitage asks Coach Maciocia if he is considering making a quarterback change. Danny emphatically says “no” in such a way that you believe him and it’s not simple coach speak to get us off his scent.
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1:09:50 — The Calvillo to Cahoon show has finally arrived! Ben Cahoon runs right past Shannon Garrett, collects Calvillo’s pass for a 34-yard gain right down to the one-yard line. Credit the Alouettes offensive line for picking up the blitz and allowing Cahoon to easily beat the single coverage. Eric Lapointe would score on the next play for Montreal’s first touchdown of the game.
1:11:28 — Always here for shots of Bryan Chiu celebrating on the sideline as CBC is going to commercial break. Dude is fired up!
1:27:48 — Calvillo is fully in his groove this time hitting Sylvain Girard deep. The eventual 44-yard reception is more impressive considering Donny Brady is draped all over him and is rightfully called for pass interference. Eric Lapointe vultures another touchdown, also of the one-yard variety, and for the first time Montreal has the lead at 15-13.
1:37:36 — Mark Lee brings up the fact that Antony Calvillo, at the age of 23, started his career in Las Vegas practicing in a parking lot of a casino and living at the now demolished Riviera Hotel.
1:37:50 — We have a new record for longest Grey Cup kickoff return touchdown courtesy of Tony Tompkins. Tony makes one guy miss, hits the afterburner and benefits from some superb down field blocking, capped off by 2003 Grey Cup MVP Jason Tucker who helps spring Tompkins for a 96-yard score.
What a difference a quarter makes! We’ve gone from 10-1 at the half to 20-18 after three quarters with both offences coming alive.
1:49:40 — There’s a reason I once wrote about why Anwar Stewart should be in the Hall of Fame. On this play, he gets past Bruce Beaton to force a Ricky Ray fumble which is quickly scooped up by Philion. Wow, Montreal got it done with a three man rush. I’ve joked about Ray not exactly being Usain Bolt in cleats but the Edmonton offensive line has let him down.
1:53:50 — Always love the camera got fooled bootleg touchdown by a slow quarterback. Here, Montreal is operating from the one yard line with everyone expecting Lapointe to get a hat trick of one yard plunges until Calvillo fakes everyone and slithers past Marcus Winn for a 24-20 lead.
1:59:05 — It’s the montage of all the hits Ricky Ray has taken! The official count is 10 hits with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Ray’s reputation of being the type of quarterback who can take the abuse and still rise up for the occasion is well founded.
2:01:25 — Time now for the sneaky big play that gets lost in a sea of other momentous moments. On second down, Dave Stala drops what would have been a sure first down conversion. At this point Montreal is up 25-20 with under six minutes to go and the Alouettes would have had a fresh set of downs on the Edmonton 41-yard line. A prolonged drive ending in a score easily could have tipped the game in favour for Don Matthews’ team.
2:06:00 — It is our first shot of the Mounties bringing down the Grey Cup which is of course marks the time for you to open your final beer or get your last helping of chilli.
2:09:40 — It’s 25-20 with less than three minutes to go, how do we add more drama? Oh, I know! How about a long iso shot of Jason Maas. Sure, the coach has said Maas will not be coming into the game but that’s no reason not to create a little bit more speculation and excitement.
2:12:14 — And just like that Ricky Ray has ended any and all conversation about where he belongs. On third and four, he goes for it all, tossing a perfectly placed deep pass to Derrell Mitchell for 34 yards. Speaking of redemption, Edmonton’s offensive line deserves a ton of credit for holding up against the Alouettes blitz to allow this play to develop. It feels like Ray was saving this pass for just this occasion as he doesn’t go deep often. Ray will score on a goal line sneak soon after.
2:17:54 — He’s been silent for so much of the game but Jason Tucker finally makes his mark with an over-his-right-shoulder reception on a gorgeous corner pass for a successful two-point conversion and Edmonton leads 28-25.
2:22:30 — Remember earlier when I pointed out that Edmonton got lucky on a drooped pass by Dave Stala? Well, it’s funny how in football the cosmos finds a way to balance everything out. A Calvillo pass should have been picked off by multiple Edmonton defenders including Donny Brady but instead falls harmlessly to the ground. Montreal manages to kick a field goal and we are headed to overtime.
2:28:25 — Dave Stala won’t be denied on a 30-yard touchdown catch, despite clear pass interference by Malcolm Frank. At this point I have forgotten this game was ever a defensive struggle.
2:31:34 — In the spirit of “anything you can do I can do better,” Ray goes to the well again with yet another successful corner route to Jason Tucker, this time for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game 35-35. What I love about this version of Ray is that he is not afraid to go deep. He also had a 20-yarder to Mitchell earlier on this drive. Remember when we wondered about putting in Jason Maas?
2:34:38 — Check out the extended TV two shot of Montreal coaches Don Matthews and Chris Jones on the sidelines. Wow, Chris looks so young! Wait a minute, this game was 16 years ago, we all looked younger back then. Have you seen the picture they use for me at CFL.ca? That’s the same one since I started writing. Trust me, I don’t look like that anymore as well.
2:37:03 — Let’s just call this the “crazy” play of a wonderfully chaotic/entertaining game. With Edmonton forced to kick a field goal to take a 38-35 lead, Montreal is a touchdown away from winning the Cup. Instead, Jabari Issa deflects a Calvillo pass that goes right back to the Alouettes quarterback who tosses it deep to a wide open Terry Watkins in the end zone who promptly drops it. Before we have a moment to heap scorn on Watkins, the referees call an illegal forward pass on Anthony, as you cannot have two forward passes on a single play and suddenly it is first and 20.
2:39:25 — This is the high comedy moment of the Grey Cup. You have Danny Maciocia with a pre-mature celebration after a Calvillo incompletion on a second and 31. Yes, I should be talking about beleaguered Malcolm Frank breaking up that Calvillo pass to an open Cahoon that would have led to a first down. Nope, I’m laughing at the rookie coach for forgetting Edmonton is still one down away from winning it all. By the way moments later the CBC agrees with me by replaying the Maciocia celebration.
Two minutes later the game would come to an end after a wonky, desperation kick towards the end zone by a scrambling Calvillo. Wow, this game had it all. Defence in the first half, offence in the second half and a giant microscope on Ricky Ray who got hit early and often but still found a way to deliver a championship for Edmonton.
If you get a chance, please watch the entire game. Trust me, it is worth your time.
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