Henry Burris and Greg Ellingson ended their former team's Grey Cup aspirations and sent Ottawa to its first CFL championship appearance since 1981.
Burris's 93-yard TD strike to Ellingson with just over a minute remaining rallied Ottawa to a stirring 35-28 win over the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division final Sunday afternoon. Burris and Ellingson were both teammates in Steeltown in 2013-'14 before joining the Redblacks as free agents prior to the 2014 season.
"Wow, wow. It was way too dramatic as far as the ending," Burris said. "I thought I didn't throw the ball well especially trying to deal with the wind but we did enough.
"I tip my hat off to Greg. If you could write a script for a story and an ending for a book . . . to have a chance to go against his old team and drive the dagger home, you can't beat that moment."
The play almost ended before it started as Burris bobbled a high snap. He threw to Ellingson, who made the catch with Hamilton defender Ed Gainey falling on the play.
Then after shedding Emmanuel Davis's attempted tackle, Ellingson streaked untouched into the end zone. His TD came with Ottawa facing a second-and-25 situation after Hamilton defensive lineman Arnaud Gascon-Nadon dropped a seemingly easy interception and the Redblacks were penalized for a chop block, putting them on their 18-yard line.
Burris, the East nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award, finished 17-of-32 passing for 326 yards and the TD while running six times for 29 yards and a touchdown. Ellingson had five receptions for a game-high 186 yards.
The win, before a boisterous TD Place sellout of 25,093, earned Ottawa its first Grey Cup berth since the former Rough Riders lost in the '81 final to Edmonton. The Redblacks will face either the Edmonton Eskimos or Calgary Stampeders in the CFL title game next weekend in Winnipeg.
Ottawa will represent the East Division in the CFL championship contest after posting just two wins in its inaugural 2014 season.
'We had plenty of opportunities to win the football game. We had them beat a couple different times, the difference is we didn't make the plays, plays that were there.' - Tiger-Cats coach/GM Kent Austin on Sunday's East Division final loss
Hamilton created some anxious moments for Ottawa when Jeremiah Masoli, making just his second career playoff start, hit Luke Tasker on a 22-yard scoring strike with 1:34 remaining. Justin Medlock's convert tied it 28-28.
"They made a play at the end," said Hamilton coach/GM Kent Austin. "I really thought second and 25 we'd get them off the field, have great field position and we'd go out there and kick the field goal and get into the Cup.
"We had plenty of opportunities to win the football game. We had them beat a couple different times, the difference is we didn't make the plays, plays that were there."
Medlock's 42-yard field goal at 2:14 of the fourth pulled Hamilton to within 25-20 after Masoli's 24-yard TD strike to Tasker was nullified by a holding penalty. Medlock's miss from 42 yards out went for a single to cut Ottawa's lead to 28-21 with about three minutes remaining.