It was one of the more bizarre scenes one will see in professional sports.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were in full party mode, galloping onto the field to celebrate the franchise's second Grey Cup win in three seasons after Montreal's Damon Duval missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt that would have won the game for the heavily-favoured Alouettes.
But the Riders' celebration stopped colder than a Regina winter night when the players suddenly noticed a red flag lying under the goalpost, followed by the announcement that Saskatchewan had lined up with too many men on the field.
That gave Duval another shot and this time he made good from 33 yards, making the final score 28-27 and sending his teammates rushing onto the field for a celebration from the opposite sideline from which the Roughriders had to abort theirs.
"Never in doubt," centre Bryan Chiu said, rolling his eyes sarcastically. "I don't know why we make it so tough on ourselves, but it shows the type of team we have. Those last two minutes can last an eternity"
In the opposite locker room, the Roughriders were devastated over their late-game collapse, punctuated by a killer unforced error.
The only time Saskatchewan trailed the entire game was when the clock read zero.
"There were 13 men on the field," said a shell-shocked Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller after the game. "There was a lack of communication. We thought we won the football game. It's just totally 100-per-cent disappointment. That's going to be a disappointment that will be with our football team for their lifetimes."
Saskatchewan's special teams coach Kavis Reed, tears in his eyes in the locker room afterward, took responsibility for the penalty that ended Saskatchewan's season with heartbreak.
For more than three quarters, the Alouettes had danced with infamy, on their way to a record of six Grey Cup losses in seven championship games this decade.
But early in the fourth quarter of the 97th Grey Cup game, with most of the 46,020 at McMahon Stadium in green-clad jubilation, the juggernaut which had dominated the CFL during the regular season finally woke up.
Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo, whose first half had brought back a lot of bad Grey Cup memories for Montreal fans, rallied his team back.
A good part of that comeback effort came via running back Avon Cobourne, a forgotten element during the late-stages of the season, who was named the game's most valuable player with a huge second half in which he carried 11 times for 64 yards and caught four passes for 53.
Trailing by 16 with just over seven minutes to play, Calvillo hit receiver Brian Bratton with a 33-yard pass that put the ball to Saskatchewan three-yard line before Cobourne carried it in to make the score 27-19, following a successful two-point conversion.
"We were sitting on the sidelines and saying 'you know what, I don't think I can lose another one of these games, man,'" Chiu said. "It's just so emotionally draining to lose these games, we promised ourselves we would finish this game strong and we did."
The Riders needed a drive that would both kill the clock and end in points to ice their win.
But instead, quarterback Darian Durant and receiver Andy Fantuz, so often in synch this season, had a miscommunication. And when the receiver broke the wrong way, the ball ended up in the arms of Montreal defence back Jerald Brown.
Scrimmaging over midfield, Calvillo went to work again, finishing a drive by hitting Ben Cahoon with an 11-yard pass with just 2:09 to play to make it 27-25. Thought it appeared Saskatchewan's Donovan Alexander had committed pass interference on Montreal's Jamel Richardson on an unsuccessful attempt for a two-point conversion, the play stood.
Saskatchewan was still nursing the two-point, but the game's momentum had clearly swung in Montreal's direction and the noise that had earlier been emanating from the crowd was down to a whisper. The Riders had to punt, giving the Alouettes one more shot at pulling off one of the game's most stunning comebacks.
By the time Montreal's Larry Taylor fumbled the Saskatchewan punt, Montreal had the ball on its own 34-yard line with 40 seconds to play.
But the Riders defence, so dominant for so much of the game against the league's highest scoring team, allowed the Als to reach field-goal range from where the game's dramatic final moments unfolded.
A shocking first-half began with Montreal going two-and-out on their first two possessions, then fumbling the ball away when Calvillo was hit by Saskatchewan's Marcus Adams and Keith Shologan recovered.
One play later, Durant hit Fantuz for an eight-yard touchdown that gave the Riders a 10-0 lead, swinging the momentum clearly in Saskatchewan's direction and sending a mostly green crowd into a frenzy.
With 1:19 remaining in the first quarter Montreal, which blew-out the B.C. Lions one week earlier, was being out-done 136-9 in total offence.
"We feel very fortunate to be down by 14," said Trestman before going to the locker room down 17-3 at halftime.
Fortunate, and compelled to make amends.
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