The story of the 2011 Grey Cup champion BC Lions has, admittedly, been re-told quite a few times over the years. But as yours truly was racking his brain to think of an angle to coincide with the CFL Grey Cup On Demand Portal now showing games from the latest decade, I came across some impressive numbers from that championship squad.
Hoisting the Cup at season’s end truly was the culmination of an unbelievable campaign for the likes of Travis Lulay, Arland Bruce and Solomon Elimimian just to name a few.
The numbers most fans and CFL purists will always remember are 0 and 5. That was the obstacle Wally Buono’s squad had to overcome after five tough losses to open up a season with sky-high expectations. Without further adieu, let’s break some of them down.
2011 Grey Cup Champs By The Numbers
4,815- Lulay’s regular season passing yards total in his first full year as the starting quarterback, trailing only Anthony Calvillo among league leaders. It would be a career-high and the closest he came to eclipsing it was his 4,231 yards the following season.
The only thing that prevented him from hitting 4K again was the injuries. Lulay also recorded a career-best 32 touchdown passes in 2011. He will still go down as one of the best QBs to ever do it for the franchise.
7- the number of times Lulay eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark in a game that season. His season-high of 366 came in the season-opening loss at Montreal.
1,350– Simon’s receiving yard total, making it nine consecutive seasons in which he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.
755- Receiving yards total for Bruce after his trade from Hamilton in August. Just to put it into perspective: if you pro-rated Bruce’s total to a full season in orange that year, he would have had 1,132 yards and 16 touchdown receptions (he hauled in eight after the trade that year).
This would still have to go down as one of the best Lions’ mid-season acquisitions in history.
458- the team-leading rushing yards total for Andrew Harris. If that seems pedestrian, it’s worth a reminder that he really didn’t become the featured tailback until later in the regular season after Jamal Robertson carried most of the load early on. We found out in November just how valuable a commodity he would be in the offence.
100- the total number of tackles made by Solomon Elimiman (98 defence, two special teams), setting the stage for his Hall of Fame career with the organization. He would record over 100 tackles in a season on three more occasions and is the Lions’ all-time leader with 781 total stops.
94.3– the percentage of field goal attempts made by Paul McCallum that regular season (50 of 53). In the process, he set a new CFL record by going 30 consecutive attempts without a miss. The record would be broken by Calgary’s Rene Paredes two years later.
Still, 2011 was vintage McCallum. Look no further than October 8th against Calgary when he made a 53-yarder with no time on the clock to stun the Stampeders 33-31. If not for that result, the Lions would have finished third in the West and started the playoffs on the road.
9- the number of Lions selected as CFL All-Stars: Travis Lulay, Geroy Simon, Angus Reid, Jovan Olafioye, Kelly Bates, Aaron Hunt, Solomon Elimimian, Khalif Mitchell and Paul McCallum. In addition to those nine, Dante Marsh, Ben Archibald and Keron Williams made it an even dozen selected as West Division All-Stars.
Observations From 2011 Grey Cup Re-Watch
- I was immediately struck by the memory of how exciting it was to be in the newly renovated BC Place at full capacity. It’s easy to forget that the Lions only played five total games in the refurbished venue before that 99th Grey Cup win.
- Even though he only had one full season under his belt, Lulay had the calm composure of a trusted veteran. You could just tell how in sync he was not only with his receivers but as a trusted leader of the entire offence.
- Speaking of the offence, some impressive numbers in the 34-23 win to remember: 411 total yards, 19 1st downs and a 34:25 time of possession.
- The common theme for every Lions championship squad: a great offensive line. We outlined above just how many of them received All-Star recognition. They did a heck of a job giving Lulay time in the pocket in this one. You can’t measure their success just with numbers but they did a great job in preserving this win.
- It’s no surprise at all that Jason Aragki led all Lions with three special teams tackles in this one. Also a force on teams: Adam Bighill who would truly breakout as a defensive stud the following season.
- What a way for Brent Johnson to go out. As a reporter for TEAM 1040 at the time, I recall interviewing him at some point during the 0-5 start and he was shockingly at a loss for words when asked to describe what was wrong with the football team. He will go down as one of the best Lions of all-time, regardless of his Canadian status.
- Congrats to the Bombers for finally winning a Grey Cup in the HD era last season. But it’s too bad we can’t bring up 1990 to the fine folks in that city anymore.