Winnipeg Wins Back-To-Back Grey Cups As league Celebrates Triumphant Return

Written By Jose Colorado on December 13, 2021 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
Winnipeg Blue Bombers Running back Andrew Harris (33) running for a first down during Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts game at BMO Field in Toronto.

More than two years apart, but it’s the same result. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going home as CFL champions.

The franchise captured its 12th Grey Cup on Dec.12 in a thrilling come-from-behind 33-25 overtime win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The league’s Most Outstanding Player, Zach Collaros, came up big down the stretch despite struggling early on.

Trailing 22-10 in the fourth quarter, the Bombers rallied behind its league-leading defence and quarterback. Collaros’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Darvin Adams capped off the comeback win, capturing the former Finals MVP honours. Winnipeg receiver Nic Demski (Winnipeg, Man.) was named the top Canadian.

“It’s a resilient bunch,” Collaros said, following the match. “We never wavered. I threw two interceptions to put us in a bad spot, and guys picked me up.”

Winnipeg shows champion heart in come-from-behind victory

On a windy Sunday at Tim Hortons Field, the defending champions needed an entire team effort to mount the comeback.

Winnipeg trailed 19 -10, heading into the fourth with the Ticats lead ballooning to 12 with less than four minutes to play. That’s when Winnipeg’s defence dug in deep as the Bombers’ offence found just enough to squeak by.

Winnipeg kicker, Sergio Castillo, played a pivotal role for the champions accounting for five field goals, including two crucial singles. Collaros completed 21-of-32 passes (240 yards) and had two touchdowns alongside two picks.

Meanwhile, Kyrie Wilson snatched a late-game interception, essentially ending the game. 

“I don’t think there was one doubter on the bench because if there was, we wouldn’t win,” said Mike O’Shea, Bombers’ head coach. “Looking back, it was a hell of a game.”

Historical Grey Cup results for Bombers

The win had some added significance for the Bombers.

They are the CFL’s first back-to-back champions in over a decade (Montreal Alouettes, 2010).

Sunday’s match was also (only) the fourth Grey Cup to go into overtime in the CFL’s 63-year history. Regardless of the result, the night punctuated a big win for the league.

Storylines were plentiful before the game as Winnipeg and Hamilton met in the 2019 finals.

In that match, the Bombers trounced the Ticats 33 – 12.

And with the cancellation of the 2020 CFL season due to COVID-19, the rematch came with added enthusiasm. 

Over 26,000 fans gathered in the cold to watch.

“We were away from the game; we had to work out extra hard not knowing what the results were going to be,” said Winnipeg wide receiver Rasheed Bailey, reflecting on the comeback season. “This was a COVID Grey Cup, that’s what I’m calling it. Back-to-back COVID champs.”

CFL looks to keep momentum going into the off-season

The 2021 season saw a condensed 14-game schedule played.

Nonetheless, league commissioner Randy Ambrosie must have been pleased to resume activities. The league reportedly lost upwards of $80 million (CAD) due to the season cancellation in 2020 – 2021.

As a result, Canada’s professional football league has gotten creative in its effort to bounce back financially. That has included a focus on attracting fans through single-game sports betting.

In late August, the league partnered with online casino and sportsbook, BetRegal. They are now the official sports gaming partner of the organization.

Winnipeg was favoured to win the Grey Cup heading into the matchup.

Photo by Shutterstock/Gavin Napier.
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