Cody Fajardo and Tyson Philpot delivered the biggest moment of their CFL careers in the 110th Grey Cup with 28,808 fans on the edge of their seats at Tim Hortons Field.
Trailing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-21 with less than 35 seconds left on the clock and the ball on the left hash, Fajardo gave the play call in the huddle.
“Gold right, Y tough, 775 X deep, Frisco, W Poko, Y nut squat, Z snap,” Fajardo told 3DownNation after the game.
Head coach Jason Maas instructed Fajardo to buy extra time to give his Canadian receiver a chance to win on the only backside route on the play. The 31-year-old held onto the ball long enough and let it go with Bombers’ linebacker Kyrie Wilson bearing down on him.
“Watching the red zone tape, I knew they liked to bring a blitz and play cover zero,” Fajardo described. “In the back of my head, I said if they bring it, I got Tyson on a post, I just have to buy a little bit of time.”
“Most defensive backs will bite on a move when there’s pressure thinking you have to get the ball out,” Maas said.
‘Z snap’ was Philpot’s part of the Grey Cup-winning play call. He stemmed up Bombers’ cover man Demerio Houston, gave him a jab step with his left foot to the corner and snapped hard inside to the post. Fajardo fired a strike that hit the No. 6 on Philpot’s jersey for the championship-clinching touchdown.
“I saw the safety (Brandon Alexander) roll over (away from me) and I knew I was going to have a one-on-one route. I was built for moments like this,” Philpot said.
“I heard the roar of the crowd. I was front row and I didn’t even get to see it,” Fajardo said. “Something I pride myself in is my accuracy, I don’t have a cannon for an arm. I felt like if I just gave him a chance, I knew he’d come down with it.”
Philpot did exactly that, securing a 19-yard TD that will go down as one of the most clutch plays in CFL title history. It led to Montreal pulling off yet another seemingly improbable upset, after beating the 16-2 Argonauts in the East Final, this time crowning the Als as champions for the first time since 2010.
“It’ll be replayed for years to come. Quarterbacks live for that moment,” Maas said. “To throw a game-winner in a Grey Cup with everything on the line, you’re not given that opportunity too many times. To make the most of it — the first time you’re given it — just tremendous.”
Fajardo completed 21-of-26 passes (80.7 percent) for 290 yards with three touchdowns versus one interception plus two carries for 18 yards. He earned game MVP honours while hoisting the Grey Cup for the first time as a starting QB in the CFL.
“Maybe I can get a little more credit nowadays,” Fajardo said.
“The media told him he wasn’t going to be a starting quarterback anymore, but us in Montreal, we believed in him since day one,” Philpot, who won Most Valuable Canadian, said. “We knew if it was going to be one play, we were going to get that one play and we’re champs now.”