The best plays from the Ottawa Redblacks 2021 season

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

One of the best things about football is that even in a terrible game, or in the weeds of a lost season, every snap offers the tantalizing opportunity for the unexpected.

A surprise moment of excitement, glory or the kind of play that leaves your heart racing as you pick your jaw up off the floor.

The 2021 Ottawa Redblacks were an awful football team but amidst all the terrible football, R-Nation was treated to rare moments of thrilling athleticism.

Adbul Kanneh’s 102 yard pick six (Week 1)

It was the game’s only touchdown and held up as the winning points. It was also the second-longest interception return in Ottawa’s 132 years of pro football, only behind Gerald Vaughn’s 109-yard house call for the Renegades in 2002.

R.J. Harris laying out for a big gain (Week 3)

Coming into the season Harris was considered Ottawa’s No. 1 receiver. Although he didn’t quite live up to that billing, finishing with 45 catches for 595 yards, none of his grabs were more impressive than this diving catch versus Saskatchewan. It was an incredible, full extension, fingertip grab. In addition to leading to a field goal, it was also one of only two deep passes Matt Nichols completed all season.

DeVonte Dedmon’s 63-yard punt return touchdown in the rain (Week 6)

Dedmon’s magical scamper broke the shutout and seemed to bring the game back within reach. Unfortunately, as was too often the case, the Redblacks offence utterly failed to do anything to build on the resulting momentum. Still, let’s take a minute to appreciate the crushingly beautiful blocks thrown by Brendan Gillanders and Tryon Vrede as Dedmon weaves his way into the end zone.

Caleb Evans’ first career TD pass (Week 7)

The perfectly executed play-action and the fade-away floater to a wide open Ryan Davis on the corner route. Evan’s first CFL touchdown got things rolling against the Elks and provided the team a much needed spark on the way to Ottawa’s first home win in forever.

Antoine Pruneau’s game-sealing INT (Week 7)

Playing in his 100th game and making his 79th career start, the original Redblack made four tackles, had a fumble recovery and sealed the game with a late interception.

Brendan Gillanders punt block & Frederic Chagnon’s ensuing TD (Week 8)

Special teams coordinator Bob Dyce always has his players fired up, so it was no surprise to see them making yet another impact play. In this case Gillanders bats the defender’s hands away, the same as one does when the waiter tries to grab your half empty beer, and stretches out for the block. Chagnon outraces Justin Howell for the end zone recovery and touchdown.

Brandin Dandridge’s sweet sliding interception (Week 9)

There’s smooth, then there’s Dandrige sliding like this across the camera for a pick. This is a GIF that will live on forever — glorious stuff.

Ryan Davis’ one arm snag (Week 12)

Auburn’s career leader in receptions had a strong rookie season, leading all Redblacks receivers with 88 targets. Grabs like this one were why he got more looks than anyone else.

Avery Williams first career INT (Week 14)

So much to love about this play. There’s the excellent coverage from Adam Auclair to break up the pass, there’s Dandridge diving and swatting at the ball to keep it in the air and Williams finishing the play by snagging the pass, a just reward for always being around the ball.

DeVonte Dedmon breaks Gizmo Williams record (Week 14)

Did Dedmon’s 100-yard kick return to start the second half: extend Ottawa’s lead? Make him the fastest player in CFL history to score five career return touchdowns? Or both?

You already know the answer.

Caleb Evans’ two-point covert to R.J. Harris (Week 16)

Aggressive play-calls were few and far between in 2021, but on the last snap of their season, head coach Paul LaPolice decided to play to win, eschewing overtime. His players stepped up to deliver Ottawa’s third win of the year.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).