The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are headed to the Grey Cup for the second time in five years after they beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19-3 in front of a sold out Canad Inns Stadium crowd of over 30,000 rabid Bomber fans.
The Bombers came out on top in a game that saw both teams battle against the cold, unpredictable prairie wind.
After putting up 52 points on the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division semi-finals a week earlier, the Hamilton offence was kept in check by the Bombers defence. In what was likely his second to last game as a Blue Bomber, defensive tackle Doug Brown was kept off of the stats sheet but was still the dominant force up the middle he’s been throughout his 11 years wearing blue and gold.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Bombers were able to control the line of scrimmage and dominate Hamilton on the ground. The key player was running back Chris Garrett, who ran for 190 yards and a touchdown on the last play of the game.
The Bombers took the lead in the second quarter, when backup quarterback Alex Brink found rush-end Jason Vega on the run for a passing touchdown. The score put the Bombers up 7-3 and was all the Bombers needed.
Ti-Cat quarterback Kevin Glenn came into the game looking for the ultimate revenge, playing against his former team for the second time since they unceremoniously cut him in 2009.
Glenn led the Bombers all the way to the Grey Cup game in 2007 — only to break his arm on a botched snap late in the East final against the Toronto Argonauts.
Unfortunately for Glenn, history repeated itself, as he was forced out of the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Backup quarterback Quinton Porter came in, but couldn’t spark a stagnant Hamilton offence.
The key play of the game came in the fourth quarter. Leading 13-3 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, defensive back Alex Suber intercepted a Porter pass at midfield. The Bombers were able to run down the clock and hang on for the win. Swaggerville was out in full force, as Hamilton never came close to reaching the end zone and mustered less than 200 yards of total offence.
With the win, the Bombers have the opportunity to accomplish something that no Bomber team has done in over 20 years — win in the Grey Cup game and bring the trophy back to Winnipeg.
The Bombers already boast an illustrious Grey Cup history: from being the first team from Western Canada to claim ownership of the Cup, to nine other championship runs that followed. The Bombers now sit tied with the Edmonton Eskimos for the most appearances in the Grey Cup game, 25 in total, throughout the 99 year history of Earl Grey’s championship trophy.
The Bombers will now spend this week preparing, before travelling to Vancouver where they will face off against the B.C. Lions with the championship on the line. The Lions are coming off a dominating 40-23 win against Edmonton in the West final.
Next weekend’s game, being played in the recently renovated BC Place, will be the biggest test to date for the youngest team in the CFL (the mean average for years of CFL experience on the Bombers is 2.9, compared to B.C. at 4.4), as the team that finished dead last in the league in 2010 embarks upon the final chapter of their epic 2011 campaign.