One glorious night - Winnipeg Free Press. It started, oddly enough, with a run play.
Two of them, in fact. And then a punt. It was just over 2.
July 1. 4, 1. 99. Matt Dunigan obliterated the Canadian Football League’s single- game passing record by throwing for 7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers victory over the Edmonton Eskimos. MARC GALLANT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESMatt Dunigan, No. July 1. 4, 1. 99.
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But on the first play from scrimmage on the night he would set a pro passing record that still stands, the veteran Bomber quarterback simply turned around and stuffed the ball into the belly of Blaise Bryant and then watched the nifty running back gallop for five yards. And on second- and- five the play called for Bryant to carry again.. The Bombers would also amass 7.
All that alone would make the 2. And yet for all the game’s individual and team accomplishments, there are some oddities — especially in today’s age of You.
Tube, specialty sports channels and social media — that make July 1. First and foremost, even though the contest was a rematch of the 1.
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Grey Cup it was not televised (not every game was then, even though TSN and CBC shared the rights). It was also witnessed by fewer than 2. Winnipeg’s old Polo Park- area stadium, even though the conditions were near- perfect (2. C, slight wind from the north at four kilometres per hour.).
There’s even more.. Finding statistical evidence of Dunigan’s achievement recently became a chase in itself. The Bombers don’t have a copy of the play- by- play stats sheet from the contest anywhere in their files. Neither do the Eskimos, the CFL or Canadian Football Hall of Fame.(One was uncovered for this story, courtesy of the Bomber offensive coordinator for that game, Mike Kelly, from a box of his belongings while moving). And so we’re left for the game’s 2. Yet.. PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESMatt Dunigan at Investors Group Field on June 2. So does looking at pictures and talking to people.
That really helps fill in the blanks. That’s what I’ll always remember: the missed opportunities. We actually had quite a few mistakes that night, if you can believe it.
Consider that during the 1. Bombers, East Division champs after posting a 1. Eskimos in the Grey Cup 3.
That after crushing them twice in the regular season, 5. MARC GALLANT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESChris Walby on the field with the Bombers on July 1. But as would become a regular theme for the Bombers during Dunigan’s three years in Winnipeg, the all- star quarterback was injured — having blown out his Achilles — and did not play in the ’9.
Sammy Garza would quarterback the team in the Grey Cup and the Bombers coughed and sputtered when it mattered most, turning the ball over three times in the first 1. And 1. 99. 4 didn’t exactly open up with a bang, either, as the Bombers fell 2. B. C. Lions in the opener in Vancouver — meaning there was a real chance of starting the season 0- 2.
I do remember standing on the sideline at the Grey Cup in crutches with a torn Achilles.. We were chomping at the bit to get back.
I certainly felt like I had a lot to prove and the Bombers had a lot to prove. The way we looked at it, we were going to go out there and kick their ass. When you’re playing the Grey Cup champion, a team you had handily beaten in two games in the regular season the year before.. That’s no knock on Sammy or those guys, but when Matty went down we became an ordinary, predictable team. He was just so confident, he had an aura and when he got into the huddle we all drank the Dunigan Kool- Aid. The Eskimos, led by another hall of famer in Damon Allen, opened the scoring with a field goal before Bomber fullback Chris Johnstone bulled in from one yard out to give Winnipeg a 7- 3 lead after the first quarter.
Dunigan’s totals after 1. An average 5- for- 8 passing with zero touchdowns, one interception for 8. But trends can start revealing themselves after a first few possessions. And the Bombers were seeing some matchups that left Dunigan and gang salivating at the possibilities. THE PATH TO 7. 13: A TIMELINEHere’s a look at how Dunigan got to 7. DUNIGAN’S COMPLETIONSFirst quarter Play No. Down/Yard. Yardage 1.
W1. 91- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Williams. W2. 92- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Wilcox. W1. 62- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Alphin.
W2. 81- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Bryant. W2. 82- 7. Dunigan pass to Williams. SECOND QUARTER: THE BIG MAN PLAYS NO. KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESMike Kelly, Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator (left), with quarterback Matt Dunigan at a game in 1. The pre- game plan was to take just a few minutes at halftime to honour one of Winnipeg’s own. Walby, after all, was a local product who — while slugging it out in the trenches — came to perfectly represent the blue- collar part of the Blue and Gold. That night against the Eskimos was his 2.
Bomber and the club planned to salute one of the most- adored players in its history with a little ceremony at halftime. I love you very much.
I got a football with some sort of glued- on stencil letters on it. They gave me the football and the letters were already coming off.
And here I’m saying, ’Gee, that’s nice. Thanks for the ball.’ But that’s another story. Twice he hit Alfred Jackson for long touchdowns of 5. Bryant had scampered in from three yards out and by the intermission Winnipeg was seemingly comfortably ahead 2. Dunigan had already completed 1. Bombers could keep their foot on the gas.
Of course, in the CFL no lead is ever safe.. DUNIGAN’S COMPLETIONSSecond quarter Play No.
Field Pos. Down/Yard. Yardage 4. 3W2. 82- 1.
Dunigan pass to Bryant. W3. 91- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Wilcox.
W5. 42- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson. TD5. 3W3. 01- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Alphin. W4. 21- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Williams. W5. 31- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson. E1. 21- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Williams.
W3. 51- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Alphin. W1. 81- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Wilcox.
W4. 12- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Alphin. E3. 41- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson. TD8. 4W3. 21- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Johnstone. THIRD QUARTER — JACKSON AND WILLIAMS DO THEIR THINGThey nicknamed him .
And it fit because, frankly, Alfred Jackson was a spectacular athlete who played cornerback, receiver and returned kicks. Originally drafted by Los Angeles Rams in 1. Cleveland Browns in 1. Paul Jones, then the Bombers' director of player personnel, called and offered him a chance to extend his career in Winnipeg.? But when Paul called and asked me if I wanted to continue to play because they had my rights, I’m like, . And it’s what the Bombers saw the Eskimos do defensively in the opening 1. During the two Bomber blowout wins over Edmonton in ’9.
Dunigan had connected with the two inside receivers — Gerald Alphin and Gerald Wilcox — early and often. In their first meeting of ’9. And in the second their totals were even gaudier: 1. KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESDavid Williams, seen here in 1. So, early in the ’9.
Edmonton did not want to be scorched by the two Geralds again. They tried to pay special attention to the pair at the line of scrimmage, leaving single coverage — man- to- man defence — on Jackson and Williams on the outside. Jackson may have been a bit of an unknown, but Williams already had three 1,0. Kelly called the defensive decision . Apple and a road map’ speech after that game because A.
J. He played just two games that season — the game in Winnipeg was his last — before being put on the nine- game injured list. The joke at the time had Wright suffering from burns after being scorched by Jackson all night.? I can’t remember his name, but he was talking trash all night. We went out to dinner one night and the first thing he says is, . Edmonton out- scored the Bombers 2.
Dunigan had to stay in the game and keep his foot punched down on the gas pedal of the Bomber offence.. DUNIGAN’S COMPLETIONSThird quarter Play No.
Field Pos. Down/Yard Yardage 1. W2. 51- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson. E5. 41- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson. TD1. 16. W3. 91- 1. Dunigan pass to Bryant.
W4. 22- 7. Dunigan pass to Alphin. W2. 21- 1. 0Dunigan pass to Jackson.
THE FOURTH QUARTER — A GUNSLINGER, PEACOCK AND BORN LEADER ALL IN ONESome athletes have what’s simply referred to as an . He walked — no, swaggered — into a room like John Wayne pushing through the doors of a Wild West saloon. He was a quarterback straight from central casting: handsome, with a howitzer of a right arm and an even bigger personality. That made him endearing to the guys and so did this, as (offensive linemate) Miles Gorrell will attest: he was one of the few quarterbacks who bought us beer. Obviously the O- line loved him for that. Plus, he had that linebacker mentality where he went head- first down to get that extra yard.
He made everybody around him better. He was like the NBC peacock. He was cocky and I’ll take 1.
Dunigan hit Williams for a 3. TD; the Esks answered again.
And with all the numbers changing on the scoreboard, no one was really playing that close attention to the totals Dunigan was piling up in the passing department. He had broken his own club record for yardage in a game (4. TD toss to Jackson to start the fourth.
He passed Barrett’s 6. Sam Etcheverry’s mark of 5. Williams. And when the Esks had finished pushing back — inserting Rickey Foggie at quarterback for their last two possessions — the Bombers took to the field for one last series up 5. A first down would have ended the game. You’re just out there competing..
I remember the next day reading the paper and it hits you.. Until that point, Boyko had not caught a pass in the game. He caught it and ran for another seven, eight yards and that was the end of the night. He saw what I saw and I stuck it on him. That’s the throw that put us over 7.
It just felt like a basketball player who sees the hoop and it looks like it’s 1. When you’re in that zone it’s like, . Can we play a couple more quarters?’.
Remember, the Bombers were out for some payback — and to avoid opening the season 0- 2. But as Dunigan’s 7.
Jackson’s 3. 08 yards and the 2. Williams receiving — that’s when reality started to hit for all those involved.