5) 84th Grey Cup
When Flutie arrived in Toronto for the 1996 season, there was an understandable sense of excitement and anticipation. After all, this was an electrifying player who had shattered the single season passing record in 1991 during his first full CFL season, with 6,619 yards. (For perspective, Ken Austin is in second place, with 6,225 yards.)
Since then, Flutie had blazed a trail through the CFL. He was primed to help an Argonauts team which had gone a disappointing 20-52 since their last Grey Cup win in 1991, with just a solitary playoff appearance along the way.
Flutie didn’t disappoint as he led a potent team to a 15-3 record, which represented the biggest improvement in franchise history after going 4-14 the season before. After beating the Montreal Alouettes in the East Final, the Argonauts prepared to meet the Edmonton Eskimos in the 84th Grey Cup.
There was some concern beforehand, as financial issues threatened to see the game cancelled. However, Tim Hortons stepped up to provide extra funds in order to pay the players for both teams.
More from Tip of the Tower
- Cam Phillips making his mark on Toronto Argonauts offence
- Toronto Argonauts: 4 storylines ahead of matchup against Redblacks
- Federico Bernardeschi ready for new challenge with Toronto FC
- Toronto Argonauts overcome Roughriders in entertaining Touchdown Atlantic
- Buffalo Bills: Von Miller drawing inspiration from Bruce Smith
As a result, fans were treated to one of the most entertaining Grey Cup contests in CFL history, in a game that would go on to be called the ‘Snow Bowl’. Not that things started too well for the Double Blue, as they fell behind 9-0 in the first quarter.
With Flutie starting slowly, the critics were getting ready to renew their narrative that he was unable to win in bad playing conditions. While with the Stampeders, he had twice lost at home in the West Final in cold weather.
Those critics would soon be made to eat their words though, as Flutie warmed up in the second quarter, boosted by Jimmy Cunningham’s 80-yard punt return. He led the offence to another 20 points — including scoring a touchdown himself — and the Argos went in at the half with a 27-23 lead.
As the temperature dropped in the second half, Flutie used his skill and experience to calmly lead the Argos to three Mike Vanderjagt field goals. However, the game remained up for grabs with 1:34 remaining in the fourth and the Argonauts holding a nervy 36-30 lead.
What followed was a moment of irony, Eskimos’ receiver Darren Flutie — brother of Doug — tipped a Danny McManus pass to the Argos’ Smith, who returned it 49 yards for what proved to be the winning points. The Eskimos closed the score to 43-37 with 0:09 seconds remaining, but it was too late and the Argonauts had won their 13th championship.
The win provided Flutie with his redemption that he could win in freezing conditions, and he was rewarded by being named the Grey Cup’s most outstanding player. Vanderjagt was named most valuable Canadian, after going a perfect five for five on field goals and converting four extra points.
The Eskimos were left wondering about what might have been, as Sean Fleming missed three field goal attempts during the game. Ultimately though, it just wasn’t meant to be for them in this particular meeting between the two most successful franchises in Grey Cup history.
- Importance: 1
- Excitement: 5
- Popularity: 4
- Unpredictability: 3
- TOTAL – 13