Saturday, November 24, 2012

Twelve Men Review The Finals edition November 18, 2012

And then there were two... Leaving Edmonton football fans with an interesting conundrum to ruminate on over the next week, hate the Stamps, hate the Argos or check out the NFL schedule for Sunday.

Sunday's divisional finals settled the guests for the 100th Grey Cup celebrations in Toronto and the Argos, thanks to a comeback victory at the Olympic Stadium will be the hosts to their own game, the Eastern representative awaiting the arrival of the Calgary Stampeders who upset the Grey Cup champions in their very own stadium on Sunday.

The review of the finals can be found below

Toronto at Montreal

The feel of the big event could be found in Montreal on Sunday, the Als transplanted to the east side of the city took up residence in the Big O, some 50,000 football fans following them onto the metro and settled in to the iconic, or is that ironic, Montreal landmark.

The crowd was alive with anticipation, the Als hosting another Eastern Final, sights set on a trip to Toronto next weekend for the 2012 Grey Cup, the top team of the East for the last half of the season, led by future Hall of Fame entrant Anthony Calvillo, taking on a Toronto Argonaut team that struggled for the majority of the back nine of the CFL season.

And for a while there, it looked like the Als fans were in for a pretty rewarding day of it all, the Argos turned the ball over early in the first quarter spotting the Als a 10-0 lead before many might have ordered their second, well ok, third Molson's.

On top of that, the indication early on from the Alouettes defensive unit was that the Argos were to be denied at every opportunity the chance to score, a pair of goal line stands from the Als defence putting the crowd in a most celebratory mood.

Yet, the Argos kept their poise, Ricky Ray never seemed to be rattled by the early struggles of his team, instead, the Double Blue refocused, adjusted and began turning the tide, a second half that they turned around in their favour, though not without the drama that the CFL seems to like to deliver late into games.

Ricky Ray delivered on the theme of his pre season arrival, that of bringing the Argos back into relevance, sending shudders clear back across the prairie to Edmonton, where it all went so horribly wrong, when the league's worst trade was made.

Ray was indeed the force for stability and confidence that Toronto needed, never more so than in the Eastern Final where he and the Argos vanquished their long time Eastern rivals.

And now they play host to the circus that is Grey Cup, the distractions, the parties, the Horse in the lobby all of it on their home turf, where, perhaps, if they're lucky, the locals will come to learn more about their Eastern Champions and Grey Cup participants.

Calgary at British Columbia

The build up to the Western Final made much of the British Columbia Lions regular season record, their status of defending Grey Cup champions and of an offence that was loaded with weapons combined with a defensive unit that had pride in the stingy nature of their work.

Few it seems, remembered that the Stampeders had a few players that have been on a field before, the quarterback for the day, Kevin Glenn who was pressed into service owing to injury to Drew Tate, was perhaps the best choice for the Stamps in this situation after all.

Experience such as Glenn's is hard to come by, and while a good number of his past playoff games have ended in disappointment along his CFL path, this season has been one where he's provided the key leadership for a Stampeder team that was in need of some quiet confidence on the field.

When Tate went down early in the season it was Glenn who stepped up and kept the Stamps on their path to the playoffs, a stumble or two here and there sure, but Glenn it seems is a quick study, corrections were made the Stamps moved forward.

A loss to the Lions in October cost them the CFL Western title, but provided the incentive to re-dedicate themselves to the larger goal of a Grey Cup berth, they clearly studied their film and went over their assignments since that October loss, learning their lessons.

With Kevin Glenn taking the Stamps down the field on more than a few occasions on Sunday, the Calgarians quickly brought BC Place to a quiet zone of reflection for the home side, a party for a return to the Grey deferred for at least a year, the questions to echo through the winter and into the spring as to how the team with the best record in the CFL couldn't find the answers when needed most.

The Stamps can be a cocky bunch at times, they have that large persona that some don't like, the only thing with that is, if you have the back up to deliver on it's not really cockiness, but confidence and on Sunday the Stamps showed a lot of it.

They take that to Toronto, with a familiar theme to call on as they prepare for the Cup.  Again, into a hostile home with the home side looking to secure not only a victory, but its impact on the city it hails from.

They come into the Grey Cup as the team to beat perhaps, the second best record on the year and having just knocked off the defending champs. One would bet against them at their peril.

Our coverage of the Finals can be found here.

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