Tiger-Cats suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to Bombers in home Grey Cup
Published December 13, 2021 at 12:05 am
HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had their hearts broken at home.
After forcing overtime in a see-saw game, the Ticats were beaten 33-25 in overtime before a Tim Hortons Field record crowd of 26,324 on a windy night.
Hamilton lost a quarterback, fought back and then fought back again. To no avail.
Hamilton coach Orlondo Steinauer said “for once” he was lost for words in the aftermath as he met with his team in the locker-room.
“We all just kind of sat there, to be honest with you,” he said. “I sat on the floor and just kind of waited until every last person that was part of this organization trickled in. And I just told them that the only way these things heal is with time. And you can’t speed time up, you can’t slow it down.
“There’s no words that you can give them, except for that I was especially proud of them. I told them all, each individually, that I loved them. And that’s from the heart. Everybody was hugging everybody. Just extreme disappointment.”
After losing starting quarterback Dane Evans to injury in the second quarter, the Ticats clawed their way back with Jeremiah Masoli pulling the strings. Hamilton led 10-7 at the half and 19-10 after three quarters.
When Winnipeg — with a heavy wind behind its back — rallied with a 15-point fourth quarter to take a 25-22 lead, Hamilton drove down the field and forced overtime on a last-ditch Michael Domagala field goal that tied it at 25-25 with six seconds remaining.
The Bombers answered with a touchdown and two-point conversion for a 33-25 lead in overtime. Hamilton’s hopes died with an interception that bounced off two Bombers and into the hands of Kyrie Wilson.
“We did a great job of moving it against the wind to give ourselves an opportunity to win,” said Steinauer. “Obviously there’s some plays defensively where we could have maybe held them to a field goal on the one they scored a touchdown. But that’s football. I wouldn’t change anything but the score if I could.”
“The whole team battled. We had a chance to win. We just didn’t get it done,” he added.
Winnipeg also beat Hamilton 33-12 win in the 2019 championship game in Calgary.
Evans left with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter Sunday after going down under two Blue Bombers. He had narrowly escaped Willie Jefferson earlier on the play with the Winnipeg defensive end penalized for his hand connecting with the quarterback’s head.
Evans, rubbing his neck, was able to walk off gingerly after receiving treatment. He completed four of nine passes for 24 yards and one interception.
An ineffective Masoli had given way to Evans in the second quarter of the Eastern final in Toronto. Evans completed all 16 passes he attempted in leading the Ticats to a 27-19 win over the Argonauts.
That secured Evans the Grey Cup start.
This time it was Masoli who triggered a comeback, with Hamilton leading 10-7 at the half. Masoli was good on 20-of-25 passes for185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“The messaging is still the same. We said from the beginning that it was going to take both of them,” Steinauer said of his two quarterbacks.
“(I’m) super proud of Jeremiah,” he added. “He had to deal with a lot mentally and physically. I feel terrible for Dane. He wanted more than anything to go out there and put his best foot forward and it didn’t happen.”
Steinauer did not provide an update on Evans, who returned to the sidelines to watch the game.
The Tiger-Cats last won the cup in 1999, when they beat Calgary 32-21 in Vancouver — avenging a 26-24 championship game loss to the Stamps the previous year in Winnipeg.
Hamilton subsequently lost in the 2013, ’14 and ’19 finals. The Ticats are now 8-14 in Grey Cups.
Hamilton had been 16-2 at Tim Hortons Field from 2019-2021 including playoffs. Winnipeg had last won there in 2017.
It marked the first Grey Cup game in Hamilton since 1996 when Toronto downed Edmonton 43-37 in the snow at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Pressinsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising