From Monday's Vancouver Sun.
An Argo-Cat fan
Too-many-men penalty on final play will forever haunt Roughriders
By Vicki Hall, Canwest News ServiceNovember 29, 2009 10:03 PMBe the first to post a comment
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Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Jason Armstead sits in the dressing room after losing to the Montreal Alouettes 28-27 in the 97th CFL Grey championship Sunday in Calgary.Photograph by: Fred Greenslade, ReutersCALGARY — With tears in his eyes, Kavis Reed stood before the cameras Sunday and accepted all responsibility for the Saskatchewan Roughriders losing the 97th Grey Cup on a penalty for too many men.
As special teams coordinator, Reed said he is man charged with counting the number of players on the field.
The buck stops with the coach.
"I've got to shoulder the blame for it," Reed said in the middle of a near-silent Saskatchewan dressing room. "This is all my fault. It's something I've got to live with for the rest of my life. It's something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives."
The painful memory of the too-many-men penalty is already etched on the collective conscience of an entire province. After all, the franchise is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Riders only have three Grey Cups to their name.
On Sunday, Rider fans flirted with glory, only to have their hearts shattered.
With just five seconds left on the clock, and Saskatchewan clinging to a 27-25 lead, Montreal kicker Damon Duval attempted a field goal from 43 yards.
The ball sailed wide right.
On cue, the Saskatchewan bench erupted with screams, hugs and tears all around.
Then someone spotted the flags. Fluorescent orange scraps of fabric littered the carpet.
Some how, some way, 13 Saskatchewan Roughriders had lined up for the scrubbed field goal.
The 13th man, in the form of the green-clad masses in the stands, was supposed to provide the edge that pushed them over the top.
The 13th man ended up costing them a championship.
"The disappointment of this loss is going to last each and every one of us for as long as we're on this planet," said Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller. "Everyone knows — and even in our locker room — that we should have won the football game."
But they didn't. The too-many-men penalty advanced Duval to the Saskatchewan 33.
This time, he split the uprights.
Game over. Montreal 28, Saskatchewan 27.
Let the second-guessing and finger-pointing begin.
"I still don't know what happened," said defensive end Stevie Baggs, rendered virtually speechless for perhaps the first time in his life. "My stomach is still turning.
"I thought we won the game. I was like, 'Oh my goodness. We won.' And then I see flags on the carpet, and I'm wondering what was going on.
"Until we see the film, we still don't know who that extra man was."
Reed refused to reveal the identity of the culprit.
"That's not important," Reed said. "The player's name is not important. What's important is that a mistake was made, and ultimately I think that I'm responsible for that mistake."
That didn't stop fans and media types from tossing blame around.
For proof, look no further than Saskatchewan kick returner Jason Armstead's page on Wikipedia.
"On November 29, 2009, Jason Armstead was responsible for a crucial penalty during the final play of the 2009 Grey Cup.," the page read late Sunday night. "There were too many men on the field, and ultimately put the Montreal Alouettes in field goal position.
"They kicked the field goal successfully, allowing them to win."
Reed said he did deploy the field-goal block team on the Duval miss. With no time left for the Alouettes to run another play, there was no need to have a returner in the end zone.
But Armstead, a six-year CFL veteran, scoffed at the mere suggestion he might be the one to blame.
"What kind of question is that?" Armstead said. "Come on, ask a smart question. Don't do that. Ask a smart question."
With that out of the way, Armstead said he harbours no resentment at the player responsible. "We're going home," he said. "We win together and we lose together. It's as simple as that. It's a family here We win together. We lose together.
"We don't point no fingers at nobody. We lost. But the best team didn't win."
That's no comfort to Reed, an all-star defensive back with the Edmonton Eskimos from 1995 to 2000.
"A mistake was made that essentially cost us a Grey Cup championship," he said. "I've got to replay that for the rest of my life."