WINNIPEG—Once again, the Edmonton Eskimos won the fourth quarter and won the game as a result. The Eskimos had been great in the final frame for most of the regular season, scoring 148 points (their most in any quarter) while allowing just 57 (their least in any quarter), and that trend continued in Sunday's Grey Cup en route to a 26-20 victory.
Edmonton started slow Sunday, allowing Ottawa to jump out to a 13-0 lead before their offence even touched the ball and trailing 19-18 heading into the fourth quarter. They turned things around there, though, allowing just a punt single and then driving for the game-winning touchdown and a two-point conversion with just 3:39 left. The Eskimos' defence then locked things down again, forcing Ottawa to punt, and the offence got enough first downs to run out the clock. They finished with an 8-1 edge in the quarter and, even more importantly, a Grey Cup championship.
Defensive halfback Aaron Grymes, who had three tackles and several crucial coverages on the night, said after the win that their success in the clinching frame is no fluke, but rather thanks to their ability to adjust and their hard work in practice.
"That's a testament to what we do," he said. "We're a fourth-quarter team, a second-half team, and that's what we do. The offence of the Redblacks, they came out on fire, but we made our adjustments, man, we proved why we were supposed to be here, and we won the Cup."
Grymes said the team was confident heading into the fourth quarter despite trailing thanks to their final-frame success this year.
"We knew within one or two points, if we could get it that close, it was our game," he said. "We don't get tired, man. Coach [Chris] Jones, that's a testament to what he does.
Edmonton won their final 10 games of the year, many of them by close scores, but Grymes said that was no fluke.
"It's not luck, man, it's hard work. We put ourselves in position to make things go right for us, and it's paid off for us."
Running back Akeem Shavers had eight carries for 37 yards, including two on the game-ending drive that let the Eskimos kill the clock, and he also had five catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. He said Edmonton's so good in the fourth quarter because they thrive on tough circumstances and prepare for them.
"Adversity; we're used to it, and we practice these types of situations at practice all the time," he said. "We compete, compete, compete. Every week is like a game, every day is like a game for us."
Linebacker J.C. Sherritt had four defensive tackles on the night. He said the Eskimos' approach to practice and the confidence that's instilled in them in close situations is what's led to their fourth-quarter success and their winning streak.
"I think it stems from the way we practice," Sherritt said. "I don't think people practice like we do. When it gets to that third and fourth quarter, when you go through what we've gone through to win these games tight, late, the confidence just continues to build and build and build. That's how you get these nine, 10-game winning streaks. You just always believe you're going to win."
Slotback Adarius Bowman led the Eskimos' receivers with four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, and he picked up the game-clinching first down with a four-yard run. He also credited their fourth-quarter success to their preparation.
"I think it started way back, just the way we practice, the pressure we put on ourselves, the time we put in in the film room," he said. "We're a complete team, and I think it shows in games like this and it's shown all year."
Bowman said he never lost faith Sunday despite Edmonton's early struggles.
"I've got full confidence in our team," he said. "Like Coach Jones always says, there's going to be some ups and downs, and it showed throughout the whole game. Tonight, I think we were just the better team."
Bowman said a key part of their success was not celebrating too early.
"With zeroes on the clock, then we celebrate," he said. "That was my number-one thing, getting to the zeroes, and we did it, and now we're celebrating."