3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 6

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Week 6 of the 2023 CFL season was sensational, featuring four high-scoring games that included electric returns, clutch catches, big hits, terrific throws, dramatic moments, and shocking comebacks.

These awards are selected by a panel of 3DownNation contributors and will be presented weekly throughout the 2023 season. Enjoy.

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Offensive player of the week: QB Chad Kelly, Toronto Argonauts

The 29-year-old mostly served as a game manager during Toronto’s first three wins of the season but finally got a chance to open things up during an action-packed game against the Montreal Alouettes. Kelly was sensational as he completed 21-of-25 pass attempts for 351 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception along with four carries for 13 yards and one touchdown. Aside from the interception, it was essentially a perfect game from the first-year starter.

Honourable mention: RB James Butler, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Defensive player of the week: DL James Vaughters, Calgary Stampeders

The Stanford product was an honourable mention in this space last week and pushed it over the top following a dominant performance against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Vaughters made five tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble in Regina, serving as a one-man wrecking crew coming off the edge. After starting the season off a little slowly, the veteran edge rusher has shown he’s right up there with Mathieu Betts and Willie Jefferson for the best in the league.

Honourable mention: LB Wynton McManis, Toronto Argonauts

Special teams player of the week: KR Mario Alford, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The speedy return man terrorized the Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium, returning seven punts for 184 yards and two touchdowns and two missed field goals for 53 yards. The performance tied the CFL record for single-game punt return touchdowns and single-handedly kept the Riders in the game as their offence sputtered for most of the first three quarters. There are a number of elite return specialists in the CFL this year but Alford showed why he’s the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

Honourable mention: K Rene Paredes, Calgary Stampeders

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Breakout player of the week: QB Dustin Crum, Ottawa Redblacks

The 24-year-old made his first career start against the vaunted Blue Bombers and overcame a slow start to lead his team to a shocking overtime victory. Crum completed 26-of-42 pass attempts for 261 yards and one interception but truly shone along the ground as he ran the ball nine times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. The Redblacks desperately needed someone to step up following season-ending injuries to Jeremiah Masoli and Tyrie Adams and Crum has given them hope.

Honourable mention: REC Tyler Snead, Montreal Alouettes

Offensive line of the week: Toronto Argonauts

This unit earned its second award of the season after keeping Chad Kelly upright for the team’s dramatic win over the Alouettes. Toronto’s offensive line didn’t allow any sacks and did an excellent job opening holes for running back A.J. Ouellette, who finished the game with 14 carries for 95 yards. Veteran ball carrier Andrew Harris also got in on the action, rushing three times for 21 yards.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Coach of the week: DC Brent Monson, Calgary Stampeders

The Stampeders held Saskatchewan in check for most of the game, recording seven sacks and surrendering only 10 offensive points and 231 net yards until the final minute of action. Tevin Jones made a 69-yard touchdown catch to momentarily take a late lead but the score only came after defensive backs Jonathan Moxey and Tre Roberson failed to secure the interception. Regardless, this was a strong defensive effort from Calgary.

Honourable mention: OC Khari Jones, Ottawa Redblacks

Best play of the week: REC Damonte Coxie, Toronto Argonauts

The second-year receiver ran a simple stutter-go route up the right sideline late in Friday night’s game and fought through strong coverage from cornerback Kabion Ento to make the one-handed catch. The reception was already spectacular enough to be considered the catch of the year but the context of when it took place made it all the more special. Expect to see Coxie’s catch on highlight reels for years to come.

Honourable mention: QB Dustin Crum’s game-winning touchdown run

Worst play of the week: QB Taylor Cornelius, Edmonton Elks

The beleaguered quarterback made arguably the biggest blunder of his young career in an embarrassing pick-six thrown to Hamilton defensive back Stavros Katsantonis. Instead of merely taking a sack on first down, Cornelius flung the ball forward with his non-dominant hand while being ripped to the ground. It was a reckless decision and one that cost the Elks a touchdown in an otherwise close game.

Honourable mention: GM Shawn Burke takes a penalty from Ottawa’s bench

Best game of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Ottawa Redblacks

Everybody loves an underdog and watching the Redblacks erase a 16-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game was as exciting as anything we’ve seen from the CFL in a number of years. Dustin Crum has given fans in Ottawa a new sense of hope, while Winnipeg’s second loss of the season could be an early indication that their run of success is starting to diminish. This is one of those games that people will still be talking about a decade from now.

Honourable mention: Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders

Worst game of the week: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Edmonton Elks

This was an entertaining contest but fell victim to an otherwise elite slate of games. Kyran Moore’s touchdown was thrilling, James Butler was a monster, and Tyreik McAllister had another big return for the Ticats. The worst moment of this game came late in the third quarter when Hamilton quarterback Matthew Shiltz appeared to suffer a serious leg injury, leaving rookie Taylor Powell as the starter in Week 7.

Honourable mention: Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes