Depth and experience proved to be the decisive factors in deciding the 102nd Grey Cup. The Calgary Stampeders had lots of both while the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are still paying their dues and probably need a few more pieces of the puzzle in place.
Hamilton could not stop Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell in the first half, and when they stopped him in the second half, their offence could not score a touchdown in the red zone.
Even so, Calgary would not have escaped if a Hamilton touchdown by Brandon Banks had not been disallowed because of a penalty.
It will not go down as a classic Grey Cup, but it was not a bad one either. The two new quarterbacks, Bo Levi Mitchell of Calgary and Zach Collaros of Hamilton, showed that they both belonged in the big game with their mature competence and virtually mistake-free play. With them, Darian Durant, Travis Lulay, and possibly Mike Reilly, Jonathan Crompton and Drew Willy at the controls, the immediate future of CFL quarterbacking is in good hands.
If Calgary had lost, it would have been a far more devastating than for Hamilton because they have stumbled so many times recently. Another loss would have cast serious doubt on whether the current team could ever win the big one.
Mitchell, named the MVP of the game, is now in the same league as Durant and Lulay, and Calgary might expect more Grey Cups with him at the controls. And perhaps if Collaros gets some more talent around him, he will be joining that group soon. Look for more Mitchell-Collaros match-ups in the future, the CFL’s version of Brady-Manning.
Calgary has so much depth that they won without defensive star Charleston Hughes and could afford to sit star receiver Joe West on the bench. Downtrodden teams like Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg can only lick their chops and wish for such luxuries.
Hamilton is clearly on the way up and put up a far better performance this time than they did in 2013 against Saskatchewan. They need to plug a few more holes and play together more. Collaros’s concussion injury early in the year did not help matters.
So the year ends with Calgary proving to be the benchmark of the league from the very first game of the year to the Grey Cup.
A Calgary dynasty? Possibly, with all that depth and Mitchell at quarterback. The onus is now on the eight other general managers in the off season to somehow close the gap.
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