10:01, TIM — Oh, man, they hand out a Most Valuable Player AND a Most Valuable Canadian? Isn’t that demeaning? (Cobourne was the former, and Cahoon–Canada’s Wes Welker–was MVC.)
9:55, TIM — Well, the real winner tonight was the Canadian Football League. When does next season start?
9:54, PIERRE — It was a good decision at the time, Tim, and a good decision now. And how weird: My team won, your team lost, and yet you seem more ecstatic than I do.
9:51, TIM — It’s GOOD! The greatest Grey Cup ever ends on a 33-yard Damon Duval field goal, moments after he badly missed a 43-yarder negated by a Saskatchewan penalty. The Alouettes overcame a 27-11 fourth-quarter deficit, and the Riders can’t help but think back on that rouge they gave Montreal by not accepting that penalty earlier, and for kicking that field goal at the end of the first half instead of going for seven.
I never told you I told you so, Pierre, but I told you so.*
*I finally worked some Barenaked Ladies in!
9:49, TIM — Flags everywhere as Duval misses! It’s illegal substitution–13 men on the field for the Riders–to bring the Alouettes 10 yards closer!
I think the Riders wish they hadn’t traded that single point for field position earlier.
9:46, TIM — The Command Center has requested a review! OMG! Looks like Calvillo’s pass did skip to Bratton, meaning it will be 2nd-and-10 for MTL at the SSK 54 with 10 ticks left. They need about 10-15 yards to get in reasonable Duval range. And I guess the clock stops on a completion until they set the ball? So they’d have time to spike it and/or run the FG team on for the potential game-winner?
9:45, PIERRE — This looks like it’s coming down to the leg of your hero, Duval. It would be a 61-yarder from the Saskatchewan 54, where the Als have it right now.
9:43, TIM — Let me reset the scene for you: Write a real intro for once in your life.
Montreal gets the stop and has the ball on their own 30 after they muff the punt and somehow jump on it in time. There’s 40 seconds left. This has to be the greatest Grey Cup ever.
9:41, PIERRE — Let me set the scene for you: That shouldn’t be pass interference, even if, by the rulebook, it was.
A receiver shouldn’t be allowed to run straight into a defender, stop, and get the call.
9:39, TIM — That was totally pass interference on that convert! Where’s Terry Porter when you need him?
9:37, PIERRE — Calvillo finds Ben Cahoon on a second-and-long for the TD, but can’t hook up with Richardson on a slant for the convert. Saskatchewan still leads by two with 1:45 to go, and Montreal is out of timeouts. Remember, though, Tim, there’s different timing rules. Als will get a shot if they force a two-and-out.
9:33, TIM — Wow, Alouettes–is that too long a word for you to type out, Pierre?–converts a 3rd-and-3 to keep the drive alive after the 3:00 warning. I don’t even care that that warning was 60 seconds too early. If this game were a college football game, I wouldn’t have considered this the worst college football season ever.
9:30, TIM — This game reminds me more and more of Super Bowl XXXVI with the Rams and Patriots. The favorite–quarterbacked by a more or less immobile veteran wearing No. 13–is attempting to overcome a 17-3 deficit.
And I get the feeling they’re going to score too early.
9:28, PIERRE — Killer turnover on a Durant INT, giving the Als the ball right around midfield.
This has a chance to be the greatest ever, although here’s what the CBC thought about the matter three days ago.
9:25, TIM — How about that response from Calvillo, Cobourne, and Co.? Montreal marches down for a Cobourne TD–helped by a great catch by Brian Bratton–and a two-point convert (it’s not a conversion, but a convert; I cringe at the sound of a verb turned into a noun).
It’s 27-19 with just over seven to go. I’m gonna come out and say it: Is this the greatest Grey Cup ever?
9:24, TIM — They RIDE!
9:23, PIERRE — Oh, sorry.
9:21, TIM — Way to leave me hanging.
9:18, TIM — What do Riders do???
9:14, PIERRE — And you thought teams shouldn’t run the ball? Saskatchewan–is that word too long for you to type anymore?–sliced the Montreal defense on the ground, culminating with a Durant keeper on the spread-option for a TD.
Running the ball is still effective even though you have only three downs because of how spread out the field is (it’s wider and there are more receivers and yes, slotbacks). Throw in all the motion in the backfield, and playing linebacker can be very confounding.
9:12, TIM — Andy Fantuz, who is a white possession receiver who wears No. 83 and runs crossing routes, reminds me for some reason of Wes Welker. Can’t figure out why.
9:10, TIM — Intriguing; Duval’s punt went out of bounds in the end zone, which gives Montreal a point on a rouge. SSK declined a penalty on it that would have set the Alouettes back and taken that point off the board, but that would have given Duval a chance to pin the Riders deep in their own territory. As is, SSK gets it at their own 35. Nice quid-pro-quo decision, although I think that’s an improper use of quid-pro-quo.
9:08, TIM — Horrible job by Cobourne on a blitz pickup, leading to a second straight sack of Calvillo and a Duval punt instead of a Duval field goal.
9:05, TIM — There’s no time left in the third quarter, but the Alouettes run a play anyway. Supposedly, this is just how things are done in Canada, where time has little to no meaning. I hope the game-winning TD is scored on a similar play in the fourth quarter, because that would be both exciting and derivative of that Lions-Browns game last week.
9:00, PIERRE — Congi hits his fourth field goal of the day for a 20-10 lead. Grey Cup MVP?
On Calgary: It’s Flames season! Who cares how the Stampeders and their fans feel?
8:56, TIM — Ooh, SSK just ran a neat little spread-option with Durant out of the pistol formation. Haven’t seen that yet, although I like it. One of the problems out of the shotgun spread (always used in college) is that the running back never has any kind of head start before getting the ball. This solves that.
8:52, TIM — Well, if Cleveland came back for a third presidency, which would be pretty amazing.
Meanwhile, Durant throws behind a receiver inside the five for a costly interception. The Alouettes, on third-and-inches from their 14, decide to punt. I like that that was a tough decision, though. The kick-it-or-stick-it aspect of Canadian football is more exciting.
Duval, somewhat surprisingly, is able to punt the ball beyond the first-down line.
8:47, PIERRE — On Roughriders: Really? Tigers, Bulldogs, and Panthers are reasonable to you? I’d venture to say there are more teams called the tigers than individual tigers in America. And what is the fascination with Bulldogs? They’re ugly, not intimidating.
And the Ottawa Rough Riders–two words–folded, came back as the Ottawa Renegades, disbanded–there’s a difference–and are coming back again in a few years. You could say they’re the Grover Cleveland of Canadian Football franchises.
8:44, PIERRE — On maple leafs: Is there any American sports uniform that doesn’t prominently feature the flag?
Besides, the Blue Jays ditched the leaf on their logo this decade, and the Maple Leafs couldn’t get very far without it now, could they?
8:41, TIM — “Game on, at McMahon!” says the to-my-knowledge-unnamed play-by-play guy. Calvillo hits Jamel Richardson in the end zone to cap the most impressive offensive drive of the day, and it’s a 17-10 SSK lead.*
*SSK is how TSN is abbreving Saskatchewan. I’d personally go with SAS, but I suppose TSN didn’t want to confuse San Antonio Spurs fans.
8:36, PIERRE — I’ll do my best to get to those in due course. But the Alouettes got a big stop on Saskatchewan’s first drive, and Calvillo was able to get a second-down conversion for Montreal, which was important for his confidence.
8:32, TIM — Lingering, non-game-related thoughts you can feel free to answer in the second half:
- Is there any Canadian sports logo that doesn’t prominently feature a maple leaf?
- How do Calgary Stampeder fans feel about their stadium being filled by rival Roughrider fans?
- Couldn’t they have painted the end zones for these two teams, instead of leaving the Stampeder logo in one and the University of Calgary seal in the other? That’s bush league.
- What ever happened to those other Roughriders? And what’s with the obsession with Roughriders? I’d understand Tigers or Bulldogs or Panthers, but Roughriders?
8:26, PIERRE — Oh, come on: The end of the half was the most exciting sequence of plays at the end of a half of a football championship game since Super Bowl XLIII!
8:25, TIM — TSN just did a highlight reel of Durant and Calvillo throwing the ball away. That pretty much exemplifies what’s wrong with Canadian football.
8:22, TIM — You didn’t want me to channel surf, and yet I just learned on ESPN that John Saunders’ ring tone is “Oh, Canada.” Is John Saunders the most likable guy on the Worldwide Leader?
8:15, PIERRE — Look, I’m not an expert on Canadian culture or anything. I hadn’t heard of them either, but the same can be said for this “Lil’ Romeo” you’re so captivated by. I just know a little about the LCF.
As a football fan and a Frenchman, it’s bothersome to see the Alouettes play so poorly in the first half. You have to expect an offense that scored 56 points last week will get it going in the second half. Avoid turnovers, and make Saskatchewan go a long field and the Als should be able to make this a game again.
8:12, TIM — As for actual analysis, I recently learned that Saskatchewan means “swift-flowing river,” and I think Darian Durant has really personified that in this first half.
I didn’t get to watch the Bills self-destruct in those early-’90s Super Bowls, but the Alouettes are giving me a pretty good idea of what it must have been like.
And Blue Rodeo is not terrible. They’re certainly better than Lil’ Romeo or Nickelback would have been. Are they popular?
8:10, TIM — Funny story: I thought earlier that they had said Lil’ Romeo was playing the halftime show, which I thought was kind of odd, for some pretty obvious reasons (things like it’s Canada; Lil’ Romeo dropped the “Lil'” some years ago; it’s 2009 and not 2003; and it’s Canada, so Fiona Apple or Bachman-Turner Overdrive or Nickelback should be doing the performance at their biggest sporting event).
8:08, PIERRE — So, Tim, your intermission impressions while Blue Rodeo plays the halftime show.
8:04, PIERRE — Miller opts for a nine-yard Congi field goal and a 17-3 lead. I think that’s the right decision. You maintain momentum through the half and don’t give Montreal anything to build on.
8:01, TIM — Wow, the “Command Center” might be better than the “Canuck Truck.” I wish I could work in the Command Center in Toronto, just reviewing Canadian Football plays.
They get the call right, giving Fantuz the catch and putting two seconds on the clock. Do the Riders go for the TD or the FG? You’re the underdog; go for the throat, Belichick, err, Ken Miller!
7:59, PIERRE — Different timing rules at the end of the half that make it easier to move the ball. Plus, each team only gets one timeout in the half.
And that allows a crazy play to happen with Durant launching a deep ball to Fantuz, who makes what appears to be a great catch at the two-yard line as time maybe/maybe not runs out. We’re heading to the Command Center.
7:57, TIM — I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. If anything, the kicking game should matter less in football than it does in the NFL.
And why is the time always stopping?
7:56, PIERRE — A rouge, or as you Yanks call it, a single. Any touchback or kick through the back of the end zone is worth a point.
7:55, TIM — Wait, what just happened? Why is it 14-3 now? How did Saskatchewan score?
7:52, PIERRE — Louie Sakoda adds another point with a rouge on the kickoff. The kicking game has played a big role these last few minutes.
7:51, PIERRE — Your homme, Duval, almost just pulled a Sean Landeta. He barely made contact with the ball, punting it a grand total of seven yards. That’s practically a turnover. His last two punts have gone about the distance of a quality Phil Mickelson flop shot, or 31 yards.
Riders can’t do much with it, though, and settle for a Congi 45-yard field goal. Saskatchewan leads by 10, and those points have come pretty much directly from Alouette miscues.
7:48, TIM — The West Coast offense would really have problems with this three-down thing. One incompletion and your drive is over.
7:47, TIM — …Football Night in America.
7:46, PIERRE — Football Night in America or The Blitz?
7:45, TIM — Did you see Chris Redman’s numbers for the Falcons today? QB controversy in Atlanta?
7:42, TIM — Yeah, possessions–and the entire game–go by very quickly. And Damon Duval’s punt was terrible and, apparently, illegal because it went out-of-bounds. Jeff Feagles thanks God every day he plays in America and not Canada.
7:41, PIERRE — I’m assuming these are all rhetorical questions. Saskatchewan has to punt even after converting that 3rd-down, and Montreal punts after one first down on their possession.
7:38, TIM — TSN2 is airing Steelers-Ravens opposite this game? That seems like a sort of national betrayal. What’s the ratings split like between those two games?
7:36, TIM — Who’s coaching the Roughriders: Bill Belichick? Saskatchewan goes for it on 3rd-and-Inches from inside its 30 and gets the first down with Chris Szarka, whose nickname is apparently the “Canuck Truck.” My day has been made.
7:33, PIERRE — That picture seems to be an apt depiction of Anthony Calvillo’s quality of play thus far today.
On the uniform question, it’s worth noting that Saskatchewan is, in fact, wearing its alternate retro uniforms for this game–as they did last week in the West Final. Their normal uniforms and logo are not as cool.
And Montreal just turned the ball over on a Kerry Carter fumble inside the Roughrider 20. The game had been slipping away from the underdogs, and now they have the momentum again.
7:30, TIM — And while Montreal is moving the ball again, I wanted to take this opportunity to announce that I am rooting for Saskatchewan, since their uniforms are superior to the Alouettes’ monstrosities–only made worse by this discovery of a lark in an otherwise cool “A” logo.
7:26, TIM — Has there been a penalty in this game? I remember an “Illegal Kickoff,” but that’s it. And for my fellow Americans, an “Illegal Kickoff” is just an “Illegal Procedure: Kickoff out of Bounds” in the States. I like the Canadian brevity, even if it implies that a team surreptitiously kicked off when they weren’t supposed to.
7:24, PIERRE — Do not insult Darian Durant in that way. If the Bears had Durant in that game, they probably would have won.
7:19, TIM — I always thought that was just a stylish “A.” And I liked it so much more that way.
Yeah, this whole Calvillo thing makes for an interesting dynamic: You have a three-time “Outstanding Player” or whatever in his seventh trip to the championship against a guy in his first, and it’s the inexperienced one who’s looking better because he doesn’t have to deal with all the pressure. This would be like Rex Grossman outplaying Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLI.
7:17, PIERRE — Blue? Where are you getting blue from? Aside from their uniforms? An alouette is a type of bird–like a lark–and is depicted on the Montreal helmet.
Meanwhile, your boy Damon Duval–who I always want to call David–nails a shortish field goal to cut the Rider lead to 10-3. Calvillo still looks shaky, though.
7:14, TIM — While we’re breaking here after the first quarter, what is an alouette? Does it have something to do with blue?
7:11, PIERRE — While I think, Cobourne runs for a first down–Montreal’s first of the game.
It would be an upset, no doubt; but the Riders did win the West and have the home-field. It’s tough to compare it to an NFL scenario because of the impact of the home-field. Perhaps akin to if Michigan State had knocked off UNC in the Final Four? I’ll think harder.
7:09, TIM — How big an upset would this be? Give me an American analogue.
7:06, PIERRE — And they just got worse: Calvillo fumbles on first down after a Saskatchewan punt, and the ‘Riders recover and Keith Shologun runs it down to the Montreal eight.
Darian Durant finds Anthony Fantuz on the subsequent play, and the underdog ‘Riders have a 10-0 lead late in the first.
7:04, PIERRE — Apologies for some technical difficulties. In the meantime, Congi atones for his miss to give the Riders a 3-0 lead. The Alouettes went two-and-out yet again.
Early indications are not good for Anthony Calvillo.
6:51, PIERRE — Cobourne averaged over five yards per carry en route to over 1,200 yards this season (in 18 games, mind you). In fact, Saskatchewan is the only team without a 1,000-yard rusher. And the ‘Riders get a first down on two running plays as I say that.
6:48, TIM — A second straight two-and-out for the Montreal offense, as an Avon Cobourne run–Cobourne, btw, is easily like the third-best running back to come out of West Virginia in the last 15 years–is followed by a Calvillo incompletion.
My question is this: Why would you ever run if you only had two downs? Do these running backs average enough to make it a feasible strategy?
6:44, PIERRE — Saskatchewan kicker Luca Congi just missed a 43-yard field goal. In case you didn’t notice, Tim, the goal posts are at the goal line, so it’s easier to get into field goal range in the LCF. Also, permitting the receivers to go in motion before the snap gives them a step on the defensive backs.
6:42, TIM — Although it’s nice to see Auburn alum Damon Duval blast a 56-yard punt. WAR EAGLE!
Do you think Duval would prefer a Grey Cup title today, or an Auburn win over Alabama last Friday? Methinks the latter.
6:40, TIM — What? How come nobody has told me this? How did Montreal score 56 points last week? How does any team score? My head just exploded.
6:39, PIERRE — You only get three downs in the LCF.
6:39, TIM — Umm, why are they punting on third down? Is this unusual conservatism from Trestman?
6:38, PIERRE — Sigh…I don’t know what to correct first. Eight-degrees Celsius is roughly 46-degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s Stade Olympique and the Rogers Centre.
6:36, TIM — It’s 8-degrees Celsius in Calgary, which my math tells me is…cold. They couldn’t get a warm-weather stadium for this? Couldn’t go inside at Olympic Stadium or the Rogers Center?
6:34, PIERRE — Yeah, it’s not like the Barenaked Ladies have to be on a cruise or anything this time of year.
6:31, TIM — The Canadian Tenors just banged out “Oh, Canada,” which I think everyone agrees is a great national anthem (and maybe, Pierre, No. 1). But the Canadian Tenors? You couldn’t get Michael Buble, or Alanis Morrisette, or the Barenaked Ladies?
6:27, TIM — The Saskatchewan coach just yelled, “What do Riders do?” and the team yelled back, “Ride!” Is that motivational?
And yeah, I like Trestman; his speech had a quiet confidence to it. Plus, you know, he prayed. I’m all for prayers, especially on the first day of Advent.
6:25, PIERRE — Big stories heading into the game include Calvillo and the Alouettes’ attempts to overcome their poor history in this game, the home-field advantage for the Roughriders, and whether or not this will be Marc Trestman’s final game on the Montreal sidelines. Rumor has it that he may be considered for an NFL gig–particularly the already-open one in Buffalo. Pierre thinks he would be a better hire than the too-expensive and overrated Mike Shanahan.
6:22, PIERRE — Well, the Canadian Press has been all over it. Poor research, mon frere.
6:19, TIM — How come we haven’t made a bigger deal about the Montreal offensive lineman, Scott Flory, who went to college at the University of Saskatchewan? How torn is he?
And slotback? Who or what is a slotback?
6:17, PIERRE — And my favorite part of sporting events in Canada: the bilingual announcements!
And “Oh, Canada”–the second-best anthem there is.
6:14, PIERRE — To be fair, Calvillo and his Alouettes have lost their last four trips to the Grey Cup, including last season even though they were at home. That’s kind of Kelly-like.
I myself liken Calvillo to a Bill Self type. True, he won the big game, but it’s still a concern.
6:11, TIM — Three of TSN’s prediction crew goes with the Alouettes; the only two to provide scores go with 31-25 and 36-22. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those scores in a football game.
And apparently Montreal is the favorite, but their quarterback, Anthony Calvillo, is 1-5 in Grey Cup games. I mean, since he has one, I suppose I can’t compare him to John Elway or Jim Kelly or Marty Schottenheimer. But 1-5 is pretty bad.
6:08, TIM — TSN’s emotional intro includes this gem: “As a little kid growing up, you dream about playing in this championship game.” Does anybody really dream about playing in this championship game? That would be like a kid dreaming of playing in the Conference-USA Championship Game.
And get pumped, this game has been sold out for weeks! There are 46,000 on hand at McMahon Stadium, the majority of which are from Saskatchewan, since apparently that’s closer to Calgary than Montreal. Makes sense to me.
6:04 — You thought we were done live blogging this month? You thought wrong! It’s Grey Cup Sunday in the Great White North–if that’s the proper nickname for Canada–and Tim, who knows next to nothing about the CFL, and Pierre Menard, who knows more about what he calls the LCF than anyone else we know, are here to bring all the excitement to you. Along the way, they’ll break down Canada’s oddball rules and Pierre will do his best to prevent Tim from changing back to a regular NFL game.
Oh, in case you didn’t already know, the 97th Grey Cup is being played in Calgary between the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But you knew that, right?