From delirium to despair in 10 seconds

TV and movies have a standard “fork in the road” storyline in which two outcomes are presented from one single plot. It’s a “what if” scenario that delivers a happy and unhappy ending with serious consequences to the characters in the production.

TV and movies have a standard “fork in the road” storyline in which two outcomes are presented from one single plot. It’s a “what if” scenario that delivers a happy and unhappy ending with serious consequences to the characters in the production.

Sunday’s Grey Cup game provided the two choices in the last two plays of the game: Happiness and unhappiness were measured by different team jerseys in both scenarios.

The final outcome was an unhappy ending for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their heartbroken fans. Happy ending defected with no remorse to the Alouette side.

The happy ending for the ’Riders was blindsided by a boneheaded special teams blunder when 13 guys showed up for a table meant for 12. The 13th guy and Roughrider special teams coach Kavis Reed are not likely to be forgotten in Saskatchewan football folklore for this event.

The good thing is that ’Rider fans will now be able to bury the 1972 and ’76 Grey Cup disappointments behind this game because this Grey Cup was worse than those Tony Gabriel specials. Gabriel was a Ti-Cat receiver in 1972 and he played a big role in a late game drive for a Hamilton field goal and subsequent Grey Cup victory for the Tabbies. I don’t have to remind ’Rider fans about his role in the 1976 Ottawa victory over Saskatchewan.

But this was different.

The game was over and the ’Riders were the 2009 Grey Cup champions by virtue of a missed Alouette field goal on the last play of the game. This was the happy ending and ’Rider fans got to revel in about 10 seconds of absolute joy usually found on the top flight of the spiritual stairs in every organized religion. Then the bouncers arrived and threw every ’Rider fan on the planet down several flights of stairs on the way out the door.

Suddenly the room at the top was hijacked by Alouette fans and they got to bring along a Grey Cup for the celebration when Alouette kicker Damon Duvall got a second chance to win the game. Nature despises a vacuum so the joy that was sucked out of the room by the sudden exit of crushed ’Rider dreams rushed back in a nano-second with the Montreal fans.

This loss stuns me as a ’Rider fan. They blew a Grey Cup because of a clerical error from the sidelines, but there were other moments that also led to the final result.

The ’Rider defence allowed two touchdowns and a field goal in the last quarter.

The decision to concede the crucial single did not sit well with me because one point meant all the difference against a team like Montreal.

This game was lost on a very stupid play but the damage was already done in the second half by a lackluster offence led by a ’Rider quarterback who felt the intense heat of a championship game.

No offence meant serious pressure on the ’Rider defence — cue the collapse. Now a new generation of ’Rider fans can feel the searing pain of a horrific Grey Cup loss because Kermit was right: It’s not easy being green.

Local freelancer Jim Sutherland writes a twice-weekly CFL column. His final column of the year will be published on Friday. He can be reached at

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