For the fifteenth time a Toronto Argonaut has hoisted Lord Grey's Cup in celebration. And Sunday night there was no more deserving person than Damon Allen to hold the fabled Chalice high into the Ottawa night sky.
The ageless wonder, at 41 turned in another one of his dominant Grey Cup performances to lead his band of double blue brothers on to a convincing 27-19 victory over a stunned BC Lion squad.
Turning the game around in the latter stages of the second Quarter, Allen controlled the play and led his team down the field at Frank Clair stadium, time and time again. After an initial phase of testing the Lion defence, Allen began to take the play into the Lion secondary and found the success that would lead him to his fourth Grey Cup win in five tries. With the Offensive line controlling the usually swarming Lion defence all night, Allen had not only time to throw the ball but could pick out the holes created and run the ball himself.
With a 17-10 lead at the half, Allen picked up where he left off in the third quarter taking his Double Blue down field once again, running in another touchdown and propelling the Argos to a 24-10 lead before Duncan O'Mahony could reply with a field goal in the third quarter.
Noel Prefontaine would add the final three points for the Argos, while Dave Dickenson would engineer one more touchdown drive for the Leos, only walk away with nothing for extra points after consecutive time count violations. The miscommunication on the extra point an indication as to how the small things would cost the Lions on this Grey Cup Sunday. The Lions made too many errors on the field, too many mental errors and surrendered far too much of the field in a kicking game that never seemed to get untracked. With the defence mired in a game long malaise and a offence that could only perform in spurts the day was long and the flight home will seem longer for the Lions.
Controversy will flow through the Vancouver airwaves this week as the talk shows rehash the decision to not use Casey Printers in the season finale. To be fair to Dave Dickenson his numbers were not too bad, he was close to turning the tide but a pass too far, an untimely fumble or the inability to shut the Argos down contributed to the shortfall from a Lion point of view.
This night belonged to Allen, who has wandered from CFL outpost to outpost for these twenty years, a solid workmanlike performer who never has achieved all star status, yet seems to the guy you want in control when the Cup is there to be taken. Named the Grey Cup MVP on Sunday night, there could not be any argument with the selection he had that much influence on the outcome of this game.
For Argo coach Mike Clemons the season ending success is a much deserved reward for yeoman like work on behalf of the Double Blue. The always emotional Clemons must have felt huge pride in the play of his players, the respect offered up to his coaching and the sense of team that they called upon in this pivotal game.
In a league that has seen almost everything go right this year, there probably is no better result than Sundays final. The folks in BC will have some disappointment with the so near and now so far ending. But a new year beckons, they host the 2005 Grey Cup in Vancouver and despite the end result in 2004 this is a team that will be heard again come next May.
But for tonight, tomorrow and the off season this year belongs to the Argos! From bankruptcy to champions in 365 days, that smile on Pinball's face couldn't possibly get any wider but one suspects he'll give it his best chance for the next little while.