These Stamps refused to be licked

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Calgary heads home with the hardware it wanted most

The squeaky wheels didn't get the grease Sunday at Olympic Stadium - they gave it.

Quarterback Henry Burris and kicker Sandro DeAngelis, the most vocal of the aggrieved parties when the Calgary Stampeders' stalwarts were shut out at the CFL Player Awards on Thursday, oiled the skids for another big-game crash by the Montreal Alouettes in the 96th Grey Cup.

With the second-largest audience in Grey Cup history, 66,308, aching for a victory by the locals, Burris was fabulous with his arm, his legs, and his head to earn the game's MVP award, and DeAngelis kicked five field goals on as many tries to lift the Stamps - the regular season's best team - to a 22-14 victory, their second Cup win under the blue canvas sky of the Big O this decade.

Calgary quarterback Henry Burris was No. 1 in more ways than his jersey number at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Burris was named the Grey Çup MVP after the Stampeders' 22-14 win over the Montreal Alouettes. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Montreal - The squeaky wheels didn't get the grease Sunday at Olympic Stadium - they gave it.

Quarterback Henry Burris and kicker Sandro DeAngelis, the most vocal of the aggrieved parties when the Calgary Stampeders' stalwarts were shut out at the CFL Player Awards on Thursday, oiled the skids for another big-game crash by the Montreal Alouettes in the 96th Grey Cup.

With the second-largest audience in Grey Cup history, 66,308, aching for a victory by the locals, Burris was fabulous with his arm, his legs, and his head to earn the game's MVP award, and DeAngelis kicked five field goals on as many tries to lift the Stamps - the regular season's best team - to a 22-14 victory, their second Cup win under the blue canvas sky of the Big O this decade.

It was Montreal's sixth Grey Cup appearance, and fifth loss, since 2000.

"We've been drug through the dirt for a few years, and we did it to ourselves in many ways," said Burris, who completed 28-of-37 passes for 328 yards in a very fine display of ball control that exactly defined the difference in his game from so many past seasons of erratic brilliance.

"But that's what allowed us enjoy this occasion much more than if it came easy. That's why I said what I said Thursday, that the reason we came to Montreal was to win what we could control, because as good as this team was this season, it would have been an awful waste not to leave here with a championship.

"We all get to take something home from this."

Burris and DeAngelis sounded a little too rehearsed at the awards - after Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo and Toronto kick returner Dominique Dorsey won the regular season most outstanding player and special team awards, respectively - saying that the Stamps would show who was the boss in the game when it counted.

It didn't start out that way.

Not until the Stamps' final possession of the first half did Burris begin to look even remotely like the best player in the CFL West, but on that drive, he began with a determined scamper for a first down, completed a couple of mid-range shots to Nik Lewis and Joffrey Reynolds and finished off with a 20-yard payoff to Brett Ralph, left uncovered in the end-zone after Burris threatened to run, 44 seconds from the gun.

It was one of the very few rays of light for the Stamps, who to that point had allowed Calvillo to pick out open receivers at will, missed a spate of open-field tackles and had done little else on offence but dump off short passes that the Alouettes seemed to have completely figured out, and immediately snuffed.

Damon Duval's 14-yard field goal opened scoring after an impressive first Montreal drive stalled at the Calgary six, and DeAngelis replied from 44 yards early in the second quarter. Momentum looked ready to swing sharply Montreal's way when Reggie Hunt picked off a poor pass by Burris at midfield, and five plays later Calvillo had the Als in the end-zone, courtesy of a 16-yard run through a gaping hole by Avon Cobourne.

But then . . . well, let DeAngelis tell it. As if you could stop him.

"It was eerily similar to last week against B.C., we had to settle for field goals, offence sputtered a little bit," said the fiery 27-year-old kicker. "I thought the turning point of the game came when Henry Burris started running the football. He adds a completely different dimension to this ball club, and I can't tell you how happy I am for Henry.

"I've been around him for four years, and he's been absolutely crucified. Good Hank, Bad Hank, can't win the big game Hank.

And he's had so much integrity.

"The old Calgary Stampeders team, if things didn't go our way, we'd fold up like a cheap tent. We learned from those punches to the gut. We've had a good nucleus for four years that's been through a lot of b.s., so it's an amazing feeling."

He was on such a roll, nobody wanted to stop him.

The killing blow Sunday, in a game in which each of these high-powered offences managed but a single touchdown, was DeAngelis's fifth field goal, a 50-yarder with a little more than four minutes left that put the Alouettes two scores behind the eight-ball - and the way Calgary's defence was playing by then, it was never going to give up that kind of lead.

The Stamps picked off Calvillo twice, didn't allow him a touchdown pass, and defensive lineman Mike Labinjo alone knocked down three passes and had a sack. He could easily have been voted top Canadian in the game, but DeAngelis's 16 points out of 22 was hard to ignore. Not that winning the award satisfied him.

"I'm a greedy bastard, I wanted them both," said DeAngelis, who made an incredible 50-of-58 field-goal tries during the regular season, which he will tell you if you ask, or even if you don't. "I've worked my ass off to do what I do, so am I pissed off about the awards? Damn right I am. I just ask (voters) to do some research and they didn't. I got got slammed in the voting, I got crushed, it wasn't even close. I was pissed off. But, this is a game of skill, and not opinions.

"I know kicking's not the most exciting position in the world, but I want my resume to be disgustingly gaudy, so that people say I'm the best that ever did it. I'll always strive for that. So I wanted them both, I didn't get em, but the one I wanted most, I got, and I'm so proud of this team."

OK, enough of that.

The Stamps, who rescued the half, and perhaps the game, with that late first-half march, threatened twice more in the third, but fell short each time and settled for field goals of 12 and 21 yards by DeAngelis, while permitting the Als but a single point, on a 72-yard punt into the end-zone by Duval. That's all the home side would get out of the second half despite the deafening entreaties of the home crowd.

The voice of reason, as always, came from Stamps' quiet head coach John Hufnagel, who is decidedly a rookie no more.

"I didn't have the feeling our team was disrespected," he said. "Sure, maybe we had some of our players feel as though they deserved rewards. But if we are consistently good, those things will happen.

"I'll tell you one thing: if Henry felt that he had something to prove, whether he did or not, I'd say he succeeded today, wouldn't you?"

Organizations: Calgary Stampeders, Montreal Alouettes, Big O

Geographic location: Montreal, Calgary, Olympic Stadium Toronto

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