TORONTO - The game was billed as Kevin Glenn's long-awaited Grey Cup coming out party, while Jon Cornish was hoping to finally find some success against a team that has had his number.
Unfortunately, the 100th Grey Cup played out horribly wrong for both Calgary Stampeders players — more heartbreak for Glenn and more frustration for Cornish in a 35-22 loss to the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday.
"When you get to the championships, you have to play championship-level football. We weren't at their level tonight," Cornish said in the sombre post-game locker-room.
The running back who capped a record-setting season by winning Most Outstanding Canadian earlier this week had 15 carries for just 57 yards. He'd been held to 39 and 43 yards in two previous losses to the Argos this season.
Glenn, meanwhile, looked jittery, throwing for just 5-of-11 passing for 141 yards in his first Grey Cup in 12 CFL seasons. The veteran of four teams had to watch from the sidelines as his Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost to Regina in the 2007 Grey Cup after he broke his arm in the East Division final.
"You guys are making it seem like somebody died," Glenn told reporters. "We lost a game. We lost six of them in the regular season. We just have to bounce back from it.
"It feels that much worse because it was the Grey Cup and there was a ring involved, something you can look back and say, 'We won a Grey Cup, you can never take that away from us,' and that's the tough part."
The Argonauts' victory was their sixth straight over a Calgary squad that arrived in Toronto as the hottest team in the league, winning 13 of their previous 15 games.
Playing in front of a noisy pro-Toronto crowd of 53,208 fans, the Stamps never found their groove.
"Very frustrating, when you can't get into a rhythm. . . and when you do, you make drives, you're only kicking field goals," Glenn said. "That's not what we're about, we've got to put touchdowns on the board and we didn't do it tonight.
"It's frustrating but when these kinds of things happen you go from your highest high to your lowest low, and I don't know of any other kind of job where that can happen to you."
Bo Levi Mitchell replaced Glenn with a minute 28 seconds left and Argos fans on their feet celebrating a sure victory.
Rene Paredes connected on four field goals for Calgary, and it looked like the Stampeders might go the whole game without a touchdown, despite tying Montreal for second in the league in total touchdowns in the regular season.
But with 20 seconds left in the game, Maurice Price grabbed a 12-yard pass from Mitchell in the end zone and the two-point convert made the score respectable.
The momentum had briefly seemed to switch in Calgary's favour in the third quarter when Larry Taylor sprinted the length of the field into the end zone for what would have been a 105-yard return. But on a night little went right for the visiting team, the play was called back due to a holding call on Calgary.
Calgary's only other points came on a safety.
Glenn threw one interception and it was costly. Pacino Horne picked off a pass early in the second quarter and ran 25 yards to the end zone giving the Argonauts a 13-3 lead.
"(Glenn) got some pressure early and things like that, I don't think he played overall that bad," said slotback Nik Lewis, who caught six passes for 100 yards.
"When your quarterback struggles that means everybody struggles — we're not making the catches, we're not making the plays that we need to make to give him the confidence to continue going."
Glenn had guided the club to nine wins in 14 starts after incumbent Drew Tate injured his shoulder, then replaced the injured Tate (forearm) to lead the Stampeders past the B.C. Lions in last weekend's West final.
Cornish, meanwhile, broke Normie Kwong's 56-year-old single-season rushing record by rambling for 1,457 yards on 259 carries.
Toronto GM Jim Barker said he believed Argos defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones took Cornish completely out of the game.
"There was gang-tackling," Barker said. "If you can take out a guy who was the Western Division MOP, take him out of the game and neutralize him, you've got a great chance to win."
The Stamps largely shrugged off questions after the game about Jones, who was hired away from Calgary before this season in a move that cost Toronto $5,000 for tampering.
"The Argonauts have our number, Chris Jones called an excellent game defensively, Chad Kackert and Ricky Ray both had great games," Cornish said. "The Argos have a great defensive line and I think they really came to play today, they were really physical, they did really well."
Stampeder coach John Hufnagel said he would wait until Tuesday to fully address his team, saying he didn't "want to say anything that I haven't fully thought out."
"I told them they just didn't play well enough, they accomplished a lot this year, but they just didn't accomplish enough."