Edmonton 37

 Grey Cup - 1996 - Ivor Wynne Stadium - Toronto 43 - Edmonton 37

Argos win Grey Cup thriller - By David Shoalts Globe & Mail November 25, 1996


Time was when yesterdays 3-1/2 hours of heart-pounding football was the norm for the Grey Cup.


This was a quintessentially Canadian title game for the Canadian Football League. There were two tough unforgiving opponents pounding it out in the cold, the wind and the snow in an unpretentious stadium in an unpretentious town. No quarter was asked and none granted.


Despite the elements these was an electric second quarter with one big play after another. The blue-collar quarterback Danny McManus of the Edmonton Eskimos, matched his million-dollar rival, Doug Flutie of the Toronto Argonauts, for most of the evening. But McManus fell just a bit short, which left the Argos with a 43-37 win at Ivor Wynne Stadium and their first Grey Cup victory since 1991.


When Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 28-yard field goal at 3:06 of the fourth quarter to put the Argos aheas 33-23, it seemed the Eskimos were practically finished. These was still lots of life left, thoush, as McManus managed to get the Edmonton offence moving again. He capped a 75-yard drive with a handoff to running back Eric Blount, who carried the ball five yards for a touchdown. After Sean Fleming kicked the extra point, the Argo lead had been cut to 33-30, rousing the pro Edmonton crowd. The pounding in the trenches resumed, with the Argos finally putting the game out of reach at 13:38 of the fourth quarter on a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown by Adrion Smith. It was the first turnover of the game, another oddity on a day when the weather should have produced lots of them. The footing may have been treacherous, but there was enough of a grip for lots of heavy collisions. This was a game of big plays punctuated by the sort of slugging along the lines seen in much less flashy games.


When the opening kickoff sailed to Argos running back Michael Clemons, not one of the 38,595 fans in the stands could have figured what was in store. Who could have expected that a snowy, blowy night in Steeltown would produce the type of football normally seen in a climate controlled dome stadium? The offensive fireworks were not unusual for a Grey Cup (the 1987 game between these two teams comes to mind, and the 1989 thriller between the Hamilton Tiger Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders), but not on a field where the power and manual sweepers couldn't keep ahead of the elements.


Indeed the first 10 minutes of the game were what you would expect from a snowy field and freezing temperatures. Flutie and the Argos offence appeared tentative, as if they were trying not to fall while navigating a slippery sidewalk on a poor winter's day. When a direst snap to running back Robert Drummond went awry and Flutie had to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety touch, there were knowing guffaws around the press box. It seemed the million-dollar quarterback was about to cement his reputation for flopping in cold weather.


Then came a play that foreshadowed the pyrothechnics in the second quarter on for the highlight videos of the ages. McManus heaved the ball along the sideline to wide receiver Eddie Brown (pictured) who was tightly covered by Argo cornerback Adrion Smith, The ball hit him in the upper thigh, rolled down past his knee and to his foot. But Brown made a sort of hackey-sack to scoop the ball off his foot and grabbed it. Smith fell, and Brown was off and running for a 64-yard scoring romp at 11:48. After the convert Edmonton led 9-0 and the end for the Argonauts was widely predicted.


The second quarter, though, was a classic. The teams traded touchdowns four times, and almost every one was a big play. The first one came from Argos punt returner Jimmy Cunningham. He gathered the kick at the Toronto 30-yard line and saw the middle open up. It also helped that the power sweeper had just cleared a stripe down the hash marks, and Cunningham roared 80 yards for a touchdown to put the Argos ahead 10-9 after the extra point. The Argos increased their lead to 13-9 on a 32-yard field goal by Vanderjagt, his second of the game. But the Eskimos answered with a sensational, 75-yard bomb from McManus to Jim Sandusky at 7:34. McManus threw the ball into double coverage and got away with it.

-- CFL-H

With the league threatening to collapse a Grey Cup for the ages brought the attention back to were it belongs on the field. Truly a classic the 'Snow Bowl' as it has come to be called showed how in an amazing snowy setting offences can ignite to provide the perfect setting for Canadian Football.


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