It was Bomber bedlam

Winnipeg Blue Bombers players celebrate their win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers players celebrate their win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half of their CFL Eastern final football game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The warmth and comfort of the locker-room, not to mention the cigars and a few cases of Coors Light, were waiting.

But the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were in no hurry to get there, not after closing down the House That Jack Built by booking a trip to the Grey Cup.

This Final victory, a 19-3 mulching of the Tiger-Cats to win the CFL East, was a moment they wanted to savour, bone-chilling temps or not.

In fact, defensive back Deon Beasley came racing out of the room without a shirt on to join in the fun, posing for a team photo with the bundled-up Blue Lightning cheerleaders and a few of his Swaggerville cohorts.

“It felt like I’m in Texas again,” a beaming Beasley said. “I didn’t feel nothin’.”

Chris Garrett was feeling something, but he had a hard time expressing it after cutting through the Steeltown defence for a rivet-popping 190 yards on the ground, scoring a touchdown on the final play we’ll ever see at this place, then capping it with a solo victory lap.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Garrett said. “There’s not enough words to describe it.”

We’ll try, though.

In short, it was bedlam. Odell Willis running off with a cheerleader — off the field, that is — Doug Brown tossing his gloves into the crowd, even the normally buttoned-down GM, Joe Mack, was bouncing around like a kid at Christmas.

Inside the locker-room, more of the same: the smell of cigars wafting from O-line corner, players popping cans of beer and posing for pictures with the East Final trophy — injured defender Brandon Stewart even tossed his crutches aside to hop into a shot.

At one point, Willis climbed into Brown’s locker, towering over the 6-foot-8 D-lineman during his media scrum.

“Best defensive tackle I’ve ever played with,” Willis bellowed, tousling the old guy’s hair. “Best D-tackle in the CFL. We love this guy. Doug Brown. A legend.”

Never mind that real legendary status is still a week away. This was about celebrating a return to contender status by a team that finished last a year ago.

Over at hog corner, Obby Khan and Brendon LaBatte fired up stogies after posing with a trophy that nobody will remember in a week.

“We’re not done yet by no means,” Khan, the redeemed centre of the line, said. “I want to hold the real one next week.”

No. 60, fresh off a very public benching to close the regular season, was the real deal on Sunday, leading a charge that would have made Chris Walby and John Bonk proud.

They say a team’s blood and guts is its front five, and these guys delivered both, the red stains on the pants of Andre Douglas evidence of that.

“It’s mine,” Douglas said. “I was beating somebody up.”

He and his teammates beat up the Tabbies all afternoon, needing no more motivation than the memory of fallen assistant coach Richard Harris.

“I can see his big face crying right now,” Khan said.

To make sure they’d be ready, head coach Paul LaPolice delivered a pre-game speech that obviously cut through whatever tension may have existed from being the team with everything to lose.

“This is the fastest we’re ever going to play,” Coach LaPo told the players. “This is the hardest we’re ever going to hit anybody. And this is the most passion we’re ever going to play with. It’s going to be a passion people haven’t seen.”

Turned out he was bang-on.

After limping into the post-season, this team can obviously crank it up when it has to.

In six days, it’ll go into the Lions’ den for its most difficult game of 2011.

What’s left for an encore?

“You do it again,” LaPolice said.


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