Bombers cornerback Rose calls Grey Cup-sealing interception the ‘epitome of teamwork’

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It was no fluke that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ended Sunday’s Grey Cup game with a spectacular interception that went off the hands of two players before falling into the arms of linebacker Kyrie Wilson.

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“It was definitely on purpose,” said cornerback Winston Rose, who kept the play alive after a Jeremiah Masoli pass bounced off the hands of halfback Deatrick Nichols, and then scooped the ball to Wilson.

“That was the epitome of teamwork right there.

“Honestly I thought Deatrick was gonna pick the ball off, and then once I saw that he dropped it I just reacted. If you saw on the film, I tipped it up twice and then I scooped it right over to Kyrle. It was all just reaction, honestly. At the last minute, I saw Kyrie coming in and I just underhand scooped it to him.”

It all happened in a split second, but it looked like Rose saw Wilson coming and directed the ball right to him to seal a 33-25 overtime win for the Bombers at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

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“I don’t know about eye contact, but I just seen him at the last minute and tossed it right to him,” said Rose. “I had to scoop it, man. Kyrie was in the box at the beginning of the play and he made his way to the sidelines. Coach always says ‘When you run to the ball, good things happen,’ so yes sir.”

Nichols ran the gamut of emotions in that one second of playing time.

“As long as it didn’t hit the ground, I’m OK,” he said before the team held a Grey Cup celebration at IG Field Wednesday night. “That’s one of the team plays that just came out of our locker room. When I missed the play I got frustrated and then when I saw Kyrie catch the ball, I was just as happy as if I did it. It really didn’t matter whose stats it went on, it was a team play and a team win.”

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THE GAME-SAVER

Nichols was in on another game-saving play on Sunday, getting his fingertips on a pass in the end zone that would otherwise have been a winning touchdown catch for Ticats receiver Jaelon Acklin.

“It was one of the plays that just had to be made and my number was called, that’s all it was,” Nichols said. “I just executed a play that came to me. It was amazing to make that play. It was a play the team needed and I came forward with it and I’m happy I helped my team to victory.”

CFL ALL-STARS GALORE

The Bombers placed 11 players on the CFL all-star team on Wednesday, the most in the league by far.

“It feels great to have us all on the all-star team,” defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “We all come here and work our butts off. Everybody says they’re working, but we were grinding, we were putting it in, we were putting in extra hours, extra time together, whatever we could, so we could be the best, and it paid off.”

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Quarterback Zach Collaros, who was named most outstanding player in the CFL and Grey Cup MVP in 2021, led the Winnipeg contingent.

Also on the list were Kenny Lawler, who led the league in receiving yards, and offensive linemen Patrick Neufeld, Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick.

Bryant was also named most outstanding offensive lineman in the CFL this year.

On defence, the Bombers were led by defensive ends Willie Jefferson and Jeffcoat on the season-ending all-star team, along with middle linebacker Adam Bighill, who was named the CFL’s most outstanding defensive player.

“I feel like getting as an all-star is for me and my father,” Jeffcoat said, referring to former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat.

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“He never made a Pro Bowl and I think he was a Pro Bowl calibre, no question. It’s just nice to be able to get that nod and get an all-star and get some respect in the league and play with some of these great guys on the team. It’s been a hell of a year.”

Also getting the nod were safety Brandon Alexander, halfback Deatrick Nichols and cornerback DeAundre Alford. The latter two were CFL newcomers this year, Alford a pure rookie, making their all-star nods even more impressive.

“That was one of my written goals,” Nichols. “But I just found out 30 minutes ago about that. I’m excited and I most definitely thank all my teammates the coaching staff and everybody else.”

Bighill and Bryant were both named league all-stars for the sixth time, while Jefferson was recognized for the fourth time.

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All of the other Bombers are first-time league all-stars, including Alexander, who emerged as the best safety in the league in his fourth CFL season.

It turns out Alexander injured his knee on the last play of the season — the Wilson interception — and was seen on crutches Wednesday. He’s due to have surgery.

BIG MOMENT FOR JEFFCOAT

Jeffcoat had his dad on the field with him after Sunday’s Grey Cup and that provided a special moment for the Texan.

“It was special ’cause I got to see his back-to-back Super Bowls (with Dallas in 1992 and 1993) when I was very little,” he said. “I got to see his back-to-back Super Bowls and he got to see my back-to-back Grey Cups We got pictures, back-to-back together, and it was very special.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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