REGINA - Kory Sheets didn't win the rushing title and wasn't named the CFL's outstanding player, but he still got the one he says ends the debate over who's the best running back in the league.
"You're looking at him," said a beaming Sheets, moments after being named the 101st Grey Cup's most valuable player.
Sheets ran for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards and two touchdowns to help the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 Sunday for their fourth CFL championship and first since 2007.
"That was one thing that coach Chamblin instilled in us was be determined, be relentless and just focus on us and that's what we did," said Sheets. "We didn't care about the Ticats all week. We didn't think about them, we didn't talk about them.
"All we wanted to know was what our game plan was and what time the game started."
Sheets broke Johnny Bright's 57-year-old Grey Cup rushing record midway through the fourth quarter.
With the Riders facing second-and-19 from their own 19-yard line, Sheets took off toward the Hamilton bench for a 21-yard run that bumped Bright from the record book and presumably lightened Sheets's pocketbook too.
"I got something special planned for the guys," he said of Saskatchewan's offensive line. "Y'all (will) see tomorrow what I've got planned for them."
Sheets's impact was felt early and often, starting with a 39-yard rumble on the Riders' second possession after he reeled in Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant's fumble out of mid-air.
He scored his first touchdown on a one-yard run after Durant hit the game's top Canadian, Chris Getzlaf, with a 29-yard pass nine minutes into the second quarter.
That score gave Saskatchewan a 24-3 lead but was more significant as it came on the Riders' first possession following Durant's third fumble of the half.
Sheets struck again on the same drive as his record-setting run, following a 30-yard pass from Durant to Weston Dressler with a four-yard TD run to make it 38-16 and bury Hamilton's comeback bid.
The normally loquacious second-year tailback was occasionally at a loss for words after the win, which he said was his first championship since high school.
"I've always been on one of those teams that just really couldn't cut it," said Sheets. "And now we had a team that was the cream of the crop and we went out there and proved it."
Getzlaf finished the game with three catches for 78 yards, all during a second quarter in which Saskatchewan put 24 points on the board.
He had a 38-yarder on the second play of the quarter to help set up Chris Milo's only field goal of the game and an 11-yarder on second down to sustain a drive that ended in a Jock Sanders touchdown to go along with the one that set up Sheets' score.
"It's a Cinderella story, if you will, being able to come home and play in front of the hometown," said Getzlaf. "We've got quite a few guys from Regina on this team and to celebrate a win with Rider Nation is amazing."