A costly fumble ruining a chance to put the game away. A questionable decision to go for a touchdown when a field goal would be enough to force overtime.
Fatal mistakes late in the game cost the Calgary Stampeders a shot at redemption Sunday as they were defeated in the Grey Cup for a second straight year, this time 27-24 at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts.
This one will sting more than last year’s 39-33 overtime loss to the Ottawa Redblacks because the Stampeders did so many things right before being undone by a few things they did wrong.
Calgary took an early lead, added to it and looked in control leading 24-16 with just over five minutes remaining. But with Calgary within the Toronto 10-yard line and almost certain to add to its lead, receiver Kamar Jorden coughed up the ball and Toronto’s Cassius Vaughn returned it 110 yards for a touchdown. Declan Cross’s two-point convert tied the game at 24-24.
While most of Jorden’s teammates said he wasn’t responsible for the loss, Marquay McDaniel wasn’t so forgiving.
“We’re up eight, with a chance to get a field goal with about four minutes left, where are you going?” McDaniel said. “We talked all game about putting two hands on the ball, what are you doing? It’s a stupid play … Stupid football lost this game.”
After the Argos went ahead on a 32-yard field goal, Bo Levi Mitchell had a chance at redemption as the Stampeders moved the ball to Toronto’s 25-yard line. But rather than look for the tie and force overtime, the veteran quarterback ended up throwing his first and only interception of the game, essentially handing victory to the Argonauts.
Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson was tepid in his support of Mitchell’s decision.
“Every play we call has options to go to the end zone,” Dickenson said. “Bo took two shots earlier. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the ball didn’t look like it got to where he wanted it to. I think he had some pressure. Didn’t make it and their guy did. No guts, no glory.
“I’m not saying it was the wrong decision because we make that play … but it is too bad that (kicker Rene Paredes) at least couldn’t have a shot at it, but who knows if we win in overtime.”
Mitchell didn’t get a chance to be the hero in last year’s loss to Ottawa, as he was on the bench in a potential game-winning short-yardage situation that came up short.
The quarterback knows many will look at the Jorden fumble as the turning point, but he put the blame on himself.
“It’s not on that one play, we had a chance to win the game at the end of the game,” said Mitchell. “Just like last year after the Grey Cup I said I wanted the ball in my hands at the end of the game and it was and I didn’t get it done.”
The shock of losing in such a stunning fashion left many players speechless and in tears, while others admitted it would take a long time to move forward.
“This one hurts real bad,” said DaVaris Daniels who had 11 receptions for 113 yards. “This probably hurts worse than ever before.
“This one sucks and this one’s on everybody. It’s not just one person.”