“I think it’s healthy to go through a little adversity during the season because it makes you stronger down the road,” Foley said. “No panic button was pressed but after we lost four in a row going on that road trip, a lot of veterans just said, ‘Ok, enough is enough, this has got to be it.“’ The turning point of Saskatchewan’s season came Oct. 4 at B.C. Place. Sheets returned to run for 80 yards and two TDs, Anderson registered one of three interceptions while Foley had two of five sacks in the Riders’ 31-17 road victory.
“To me, that’s when I knew this team had a chance to go all the way,” Taman said. “When we went into a tough place to play and knocked them off and we got our running back back, that’s when I knew this team had the chance to do something special.
“Deep down I thought if we won this game this team is back, we’re back to that 8-1 team and we were.”
A fact not lost on Foley, named the top Canadian in Toronto’s 2012 Grey Cup win over Calgary.
“I remember in that locker-room before the game how focused and intense we were,” he said. “Darian (Riders quarterback Darian Durant) is our pre-game speech guy and he says what we need to hear and for some reason that day he pointed to me and said, ‘Get ‘em,’ and I went off.
“I took a page out of (former Argos teammate) Adriano Belli’s book and flipped the tables over during the pre-game speech and knocked everything over. I apologized to the guys I got Gatorade on afterwards but I think that was the turning point of our year when everybody came together in all three phases.”
Saskatchewan (11-7) finished its season losing two straight, including a 29-25 road decision to Calgary (league-best 14-4) for top spot in the West Division. But another big win over B.C., 29-25 in the Western semifinal, set up a conference final rematch with the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.
Saskatchewan emerged with a 35-13 victory as Sheets ran for 177 yards and a TD while Durant threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
And then there was the Grey Cup, and the boost the Saskatchewan players received playing before the sea of green that was Rider Nation at venerable Mosaic Stadium.
“What topped it all off was that it was here,” Taman said. “If we’d won this in Toronto or Vancouver, flying back would’ve been cool but we just literally won the game right here with all our fans sitting in that crowd.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
For Chamblin, the full scope of the Grey Cup victory hasn’t fully sunk in.
“Not until I get that ring,” he said. “Every once in a while I lean over to my wife and tell her, ‘We won the Grey Cup.’ “We treated it as the next game and that’s why we didn’t let it get too big for us. Once I see the ring, I’ll really feel like, you know what? We won the championship.”
Foley’s third career Grey Cup win – his first was with B.C in ‘06 – was decidedly different than the 2012 championship he earned with Toronto.
“In Toronto with coach (Scott) Milanovich, we never spoke about the Grey Cup at all,” Foley said. “But coach Chamblin always addressed us ‘Good morning champs,’ and at first I didn’t know how to take it because we hadn’t won anything.
“But I think because we addressed the issue of pressure and the objective early on, once we beat Calgary at McMahon there really wasn’t a celebration because it felt like this was what we were supposed to do. We expected to be there and then with the Grey Cup at home, instead of having pressure it was more like an advantage.”
And for Getzlaf, the opportunity to realize a childhood dream.
“As a Saskatchewan kid, to play professional football for the team you grew up cheering for is special in itself,” he said. “Then to have an opportunity to get to the Grey Cup and win it on home soil, I don’t think that will sink in for a while.
“When you go out on top in front of your own fans who’ve waited a long time for a situation like that, it’s such an amazing feeling.”
However, Getzlaf isn’t resting on his laurels.
“Oh no, it’s back to the grind,” he said. “I’m already back to the gym trying to make my body right to hopefully do it all over again.”
For Chamblin, that means aiming for another championship but not a repeat.
“Repeating means doing the same thing and we can’t do that,” he said. “What we did will forever be etched in our minds . . . it really tested our mettle and allowed us to grow.”
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