Regular-Season Success Doesn’t Always Mean a Championship, Blue Bombers Have Work to Do

The Blue Bombers are 9-1. Undefeated at home, plus/minus over 100. Their opponents have 67 points in the six games, they have 179. That is absolutely absurd. It’s not really a matter of if they make it to the Grey Cup, but how much they will win by.

That made me think.

The clear-cut best team in the league in 2019 was Hamilton, and they got the brakes beat off them 33-12 in the Grey Cup by Winnipeg. In hindsight, sure, Winnipeg is proving themselves again this year that it was no fluke, but heading into that game, it was Hamilton’s game to lose. So I went down the rabbit hole to investigate, just how much of a sure thing the Blue Bombers are this year.

The question? How many of the “best” teams since 2000 have won the grey cup. The criteria? Best regular-season record. That’s it. Let’s jump in.

2000

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 12-5-1

Grey Cup – B.C. Lions 28, Montreal Alouettes 26

We start this list off with the first Grey Cup winner to win with a losing record (8-10). Led by Damon Allen (who became the CFL’s all-time leading passer this season,) and two sturdy runners in Robert Drummond and Canada’s own Sean Millington, the Lions overcame the Stampeders, led by this year’s MOP, some guy named Dave Dickenson who no one ever heard of again in Calgary. After knocking off Calgary, the underdog Lions get an easy Grey Cup game against Anthony Calvillo, Mike Pringle and Ben Cahoon. Wait. There was nothing easy about this two-game stretch. The two best teams in the league and you knock them both out, just wow. Calgary had six of the twelve players named to the CFL All-Star defensive side. Six! And Dickenson was MOP. Let us not forget the legendary leg of Lui Passaglia, who booted the game-winning points and immediately announced his retirement following this game. A crazy start to the countdown.

Other Guys 1, Best Records 0.

2001

Best Record – Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 14-4

Grey Cup – Calgary Stampeders 27, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 19

We go from the first losing record Grey Cup winner too… the second? And it’s a Calgary revenge tour! Something in the water in the early 2000s. Anyways, Khari Jones was the MOP this year, bet you forgot that name, and led the Blue Bombers to a 14-4 record that included twelve straight wins. Oh, and having Milt Stegall helps. They also boasted a great defence and held a tough Hamilton team to 13 points in the East Final. This was a weird year when all the Eastern teams were half-decent to great and all the Western teams were below average to current Redblacks level. Very hard to imagine but it’s true, and this allowed a subpar Stampeders team to run the table (if you can call it that when only bad teams are involved,) and come out of the West. The stage was set for a titanic battle between… Khari Jones and Marcus Crandell? Okay? Crandell ends up being game MVP, tossing two touchdowns, and none of these two guys are ever really heard from again.

Other Guys 2, Best Records 0.

2002

Best Record – Montreal Alouettes & Edmonton Elks – 13-5

Grey Cup – Montreal Alouettes 25, Edmonton Elks 16

Here we go! Our first tie for best record and they both make the Grey Cup! It kind of makes up for the previous two years. This was the renewal of a big-time, old-school Grey Cup rivalry, with Montreal looking for their first one since 1977. Drama! Calvillo won MVP in a duel with Ricky Ray, Pat Woodcock was the most valuable Canadian on a team with Ben Cahoon, courtesy of a 99 yard TD reception. Fantastic renewal of the rivalry.

In bonus news, Ottawa got a franchise back, we should be seeing them on this countdown anytime right? Oh, those Renegades.

Other Guys 2, Best Records 1.

2003

Best Record – Montreal Alouettes & Edmonton Elks – 13-5

Grey Cup – Edmonton Elks 34, Montreal Alouettes 22

Bit of deja vu from the last section huh? Elks and Alouettes tie for the best record again, meet up in the Grey Cup again, only this time Ricky Ray makes the most of it and leads Edmonton over Montreal. Ben Cahoon had a fantastic game for Montreal, but Jason Tucker had a better one, scoring two touchdowns and game MVP. People forget that Montreal went with two rookies to be their starting cornerbacks which.. just doesn’t seem like the right move? I’d get fired in Pee-Wee for something like that.

Other Guys 2, Best Records 2.

2004

Best Record – Montreal Alouettes – 14-4

Grey Cup – Toronto Argonauts 27, B.C. Lions 19

Damon freaking Allen. 41 years of age, Grey Cup MVP. Toronto finished the year a good 10-7-1 and rolled over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before coming face to face with the beasts from the East, the Alouettes. Calvillo rolling, Cahoon, Jermaine Copeland and Kwame Cavil catching everything, the defence holding every game down. I mean just look at the Eastern All-Stars from 2004. It’s filled with Alouettes. Damon Allen walks in there and comes away with a 26-18 victory. What a legend. This brings them face to face with a really good, 13-5 Lions team who have the 2004 MOP in Casey Printers.. on the bench for a newly healthy Dave Dickenson. Interesting call. Allen runs in two and tosses another to Robert Baker. Allen and Dickenson cross paths in this article again, you gotta love it.

Other Guys 3, Best Records 2.

2005

Best Record – B.C. Lions – 12-6

Grey Cup – Edmonton Elks 38, Montreal Alouettes 35 (2OT)

The year of parity. B.C. with 12 wins, Calgary/Edmonton/Toronto all with 11 and Montreal with 10. No one could really separate themselves during this season but if this article has taught us anything it’s that Damon Allen or an Edmonton/Montreal final is the safest bet. It happened to be the latter this time. The two teams had very different paths to the final. Montreal (who had four receivers over 1000 yards which is just ridiculous) ran over the RoughRiders 30-14, which set up a huge game against defending champs Toronto, who boasted MOP Damon Allen. Surprisingly, outside of the first quarter, Montreal dominated and won the game 33-17. Calvillo was just so so good. Like seriously watch the guy, he could have me finish the year with 10 touchdowns.

Meanwhile out West, Edmonton finished 3rd in the division, Ricky Ray was playing absolutely abysmal and they had to travel to Calgary. And oh yeah, they’re playing against Henry Burris. It’s not looking good for our friends from Edmonton… wait, wait, what’s that? That’s Jason Maas’s music! Out goes Ray, in comes Maas. He leads them to a 17-3 4th quarter and the Elks hold on by a touchdown. They then head to B.C. where Wally Buono still can’t decide whether Dickenson or Printers is the go-to guy. Dickenson and Ray start the game, Printers and Maas finish it. Maas AGAIN spurs Edmonton to a victory, barely edging out B.C. 28-23. At this point, Maas probably should just start the Grey Cup, but that would be way too easy. Instead, Ray redeems himself, becomes the Grey Cup MVP in an absolute instant classic, as Edmonton takes the mid-2000’s trilogy from Montreal.

What a crazy set of games. Montreal and Edmonton as a rivalry never gets enough credit and I wish there was a little more fire to it these days.

Other Guys 4, Best Records 2.

2006

Best Record – B.C. Lions – 13-5

Grey Cup – B.C. Lions 25, Montreal Alouettes 14

This one is actually about as standard as it gets. The Lions boasted the best offence and defence in the league, committed murder against the RoughRiders in the west final, winning 45-18, before shutting down another great Alouettes team 25-14 in the Grey Cup. Dave Dickenson (miss you Printers,) won MVP of the game, and Lions kicker Paul McCallum won most valuable Canadian because he made SIX field goals in this one. Awesome. About as standard as it gets.

Other Guys 4, Best Records 3.

2007

Best Record – B.C. Lions – 14-3-1

Grey Cup – Saskatchewan Roughriders 23, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 19

Banjo Bowl Grey Cup, hell yeah! Both teams finished second in their respective divisions and had to pull out nailbiters to even escape the first round. It was a defensive playoff all the way through (26 points is the highest of the playoffs, hit twice by Saskatchewan,) and this seemed to favour the first seeds, B.C. and Toronto. B.C. in particular had a hotshot rookie by the name of Cameron Wake, however, the Roughriders had league MOP Kerry Joseph and that proved to be the difference. Meanwhile, the Bombers knocked out the Argos 19-9 but lost Kevin Glenn in the process.

The Roughriders won a close Grey Cup and James Johnson had three picks to bring home game MVP which is freaking awesome. A defensive player winning a major award will never not be cool. What could have been if Glenn had played. Alas.

Other Guys 5, Best Records 3.

2008

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 13-5

Grey Cup – Calgary Stampeders 22, Montreal Alouettes 14

Best record Calgary, and they win the Grey Cup! Calgary would never choke, I love it. What a gauntlet the West was shaping up to be here. Every team had double-digit wins. Craziness. Montreal always brought it though, Calvillo is awesome. Henry Burris wins game MVP here which everyone loves, Burris is a great dude. Not much to say here, best records continue to keep it close.

Other Guys 5, Best Records 4.

2009

Best Record – Montreal Alouettes – 15-3

Grey Cup – Montreal Alouettes 28, Saskatchewan Roughriders 27

We all know what happened in this game. Too many men on the field, Alouettes get a second chance and drill it. Heartbreak in Saskatchewan. Everyone forgets just how damn good the Alouettes were coming into this game. They hung 56 on the Lions in the East final (Casey Printers sighting!) Calvillo was MOP, they had Avon Cobourne as their running back, Cahoon and Kerry Watkins to throe too.. it was deadly. Here comes newbie Darian Durant for the Riders and he gave them a heck of a game. Couldn’t overcome that pesky extra man on the field. Shame.

Other Guys 5, Best Records 5.

2010

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 13-5

Grey Cup – Montreal Alouettes 21, Saskatchewan Roughriders 18

Calvillo came away with his third Grey Cup here, Cobourne ran in two touchdowns and Jamel Richardson was game MVP with eight receptions for 109 yards. We’ve been writing about Montreal an awful lot, haven’t we? Calvillo was a machine, Cahoon was a machine, the defence always showed up when it mattered. They beat Saskatchewan in a rematch of 2009 after the Roughriders dispatched of Henry Burris and the Stamps. The Stamps might show up here a few more times.

Other Guys 6, Best Records 5.

2011

Best Record – B.C. Lions, Edmonton Elks & Calgary Stampeders – 11-7

Grey Cup – B.C. Lions 34, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23

A tight, tight year. The three west playoff teams all win eleven games and Winnipeg and Montreal win ten in the East. Led by a young hotshot by the name of Travis Lulay, B.C. stomps through the playoffs, no team comes within in ten, and Lulay is named game MVP. Oh, a young running back by the name of Andrew Harris was named most valuable Candian. Not sure if he’ll stick around and have a career or not.

Other Guys 6, Best Records 6.

2012

Best Record – B.C. Lions – 13-5

Grey Cup – Toronto Argonauts 35, Calgary Stampeders 22

100th Grey Cup in Toronto. Damn, the Argos are 9-9 that would have been cool to see, them winning at home… wait they just knocked off the Alouettes in the Division finals? They just beat Calgary by THIRTEEN?!? Led by lightly used Ricky Ray and MOP Chad Owens, the Argos stormed through the Grey Cup and didn’t really leave Calgary much of a chance. Most outstanding Canadian Jon Cornish had a tough game and that was as close as they got. Travis Lulay and Lions looked good to repeat, but Kevin Glenn and Cornish had a big game and won an instant classic against the Lions in the West Final. The best records just can not take the lead, perpetually down by one or tied.

Other Guys 7, Best Records 6.

2013

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 14-4

Grey Cup – Saskatchewan Roughriders 45, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23

Roughriders, it’s been a while. I love talking about the Riders, I don’t know why, they’re just a fascinating team historically. Darian Durant finally put it all together, had so so many weapons at his disposal, I mean just look at this. Kory Sheets, Geroy Simon, Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf. That’s wild. They absolutely stomped out the Stampeders who had Jon Cornish tearing the whole league up, however, they couldn’t decide on a Quarterback and that ultimately led to their demise in the West Final when they held onto Kevin Glenn for too long. After that, it was too easy. This might be the first time we’ve talked about Hamilton which says a lot. Henry Burris and the Ti-Cats couldn’t get anything going and that led to the blowout.

Other Guys 8, Best Records 6.

2014

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 15-3

Grey Cup – Calgary Stampeders 20, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 16

Rise of the Bo. Oh, and the East is brutal, brutal. The best team was Hamilton, 9-9. Ottawa makes their return and goes 2-16, which doesn’t help the East’s cause. Bo Levi Mitchell set the league on fire and Jon Cornish led the league in rushing despite missing significant time with injury. Cornish can’t get much better at this point. Bo Levi won game MVP and the game wasn’t really that close despite the score. I’m sure we’ll see more of the Stamps.

Other Guys 8, Best Records 7.

2015

Best Record – Edmonton Elks & Calgary Stampeders – 14-4

Grey Cup – Edmonton Elks 26, Ottawa Redblacks 20

Woah Ottawa! Where did you come from?? Oh, you have Henry Burris now, that explains things. Ottawa goes from worst to first in the East, you have to love when that happens. Meanwhile, out West, the Stampeders and Elks meet in a brutal battle of Alberta of 14-4 teams in the West Final. What a game! Michael Reilly was incredible all through the season and into the playoffs, but the Grey Cup was a tough defensive struggle. Burris lit up Edmonton in the 1st quarter, but Reilly fought back and downed Ottawa, gaining game MVP along the way. Best records clawback.

Other Guys 8, Best Records 8.

2016

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 15-2-1

Grey Cup – Ottawa Redblacks 39, Calgary Stampeders 33 (OT)

One of the most heartbreaking games as a Stampeder fan I’ve ever watched. Bo Levi was rolling, regular season MOP, we only lost two games all season! And here comes Henry Burris. Burris is just a guy I don’t want to see in a big game, he’s a big game Quarterback in my opinion, even if his teams don’t always win the game. The Stamps could just never take the lead (sort of like the best records in this article.) This game was really one of the better games I’ve ever seen, and I say that as someone whose team crashed and burned against a team under 500. (WHY BURRIS, WHY?) I was happy to see Ottawa get a win here, the city deserved it after the travesty of teams they had to put up with for years, and hey, it wasn’t Edmonton.

Other Guys 9, Best Records 8.

2017

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 13-4-1

Grey Cup – Toronto Argonauts 27, Calgary Stampeders 24

So, uh, this got depressing. With 5 minutes to go, Calgary looks like they got this game in hand. It all fell apart. Back to back years of heartbreak. It really does something to a guy. DeVier Posey caught a 100-yard touchdown from Ricky Ray to set a record and walked home with a Grey Cup MVP. I’m upset just talking about this, let’s just move on.

Other Guys 10, Best Records 8.

2018

Best Record – Calgary Stampeders – 13-5

Grey Cup – Calgary Stampeders 27, Ottawa Redblacks 16

This is actually the sixth straight year that Calgary is in the best record category which doesn’t seem right? Almost feels like an author mistake. They’ve only won one Grey Cup in that span and had two crushing defeats. Well here’s another one. Bo Levi got another MOP and the guy was just fantastic this season. They were never really in danger at all in the Grey Cup and got their revenge against Ottawa. Bo also took home MVP of the Grey Cup game.

Other Guys 10, Best Records 9.

2019

Best Record – Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 15-3

Grey Cup – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 33, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 12

And here we are. 20 years of research, and we finish with Other Guys 11, Best Records 9. What does this mean exactly? I’m not too sure. It means that it’s close, almost a 50-50 split on whether the best records win the Grey Cup. If we want to go one step further, in 20 years, the best record has made the Grey Cup 13 times. Safe bet on Winnipeg to at least make an appearance perhaps. I hope everyone enjoyed the in-depth look at the unbeatable Bombers’ chances of winning this year’s Grey Cup.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: