It's not how you start, but rather how you finish.
That motto rang true in the 99th Grey Cup with a 34-23 B.C. Lions victory
over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, capping off an amazing turnaround that saw the team starting at 0-5.
Although the game had a crazy finish, the Lions executed their game plan against the Bombers to perfection. Head coach Wally Buono challenged his team prior to taking the field to dominate the line of scrimmage. Control the line of scrimmage and control the game.
Once again, Buono made the decision to dress six defensive linemen. Buck Pierce was constantly under pressure and Chris Garrett finished the game with only eight carries for 26 yards.
The Bombers' defence had frustrated quarterback Travis Lulay all season long. Sunday night the CFL's Most Outstanding Player demonstrated just how far he has come in his development as a CFL quarterback.
The last time these teams met was in August, when Lulay was pulled from the game and threw for only 103 yards. That contest left Lulay visibly frustrated as he was not able to read the Bomber defence fast enough to get the ball.Banner game for Lulay
Just three months later, Lulay faced up to the Bomber defensive challenge again and passed with flying colours. He finished the game with 320 passing yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and the Most Outstanding Player of the Grey Cup.
Offensively, B.C. took advantage of the Bombers' aggressiveness on defence and executed plays that cut back against their hard flow to the football. The offensive creativity that the Lions executed kept the Bombers' defense continually on their heels, eliminating their potent pass rush.
Coming into the game, B.C. knew that they would have a favorable match-up against Winnipeg cornerback Deon Beasley, who was playing in place of the injured Brandon Stewart. Every time Lulay saw that Winnipeg was in man-to-man coverage, he challenged Beasley, leading to several big plays for the Lions.
With two very solid defences colliding in this game, it was crucial for Buck Pierce to have a solid game. Given enough time to make his throws, he was late or simply missed his target. To make matters worse for the Bombers, punter Jamie Boreham had a 32.4 yard punting average through the first half of the game.
If it wasn't for the special teams play of Jovon Johnson and a few major fouls that the Lions took, the Bombers would have been completely shut out in the first half. With as bad as the Bombers played in the first half, they were only down one score.Playing with fire
The Winnipeg defensive secondary was playing with fire all game long by challenging the B.C. receivers with man-to-man coverage. I appreciate the coverage skills of the Bomber secondary, but when you are predictable as a defence an offence will hurt you.
B.C. set up the long touchdown play to Kierrie Johnson perfectly. Catching Winnipeg in man coverage once again, they matched up their fastest receiver on Jonathan Hefney to the wide side of the field.
I don't care how great you are at covering man-to-man, there is no one that will be able to cover this. With motion from the weak side of the field, Johnson crossed the line of scrimmage with a full head of steam and ran right past Hefney for the score.
Every game comes down to your ability to make five big plays. A perfect snap shot of this happened in the third when Odell Willis had an opportunity to intercept an errant Lulay pass and take it in for a touchdown. If Willis makes that play, the Bombers would be down only one score with plenty of game left and regain some momentum.
There is such a fine line between winning and losing
Instead, he doesn't make the play and the B.C. Lions offence marches the length of the field capped off by an Arland Bruce touchdown that made the game 31-9.
The Bombers made some plays in the game, however they didn't happen until there were just three minutes left in the game. Greg Carr made a great play to score. Jovon Johnson had a great return to set up a Terrence Edwards score. Carr came down with the onside kick attempt, however it was before the ball had traveled 10 yards and was ruled an illegal kick.
For the Bombers, it was too little, too late.
The Lions started the season with great expectations. Although the journey was rough, they completed the season just like they envisioned: as champions.
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