3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 14

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The CFL was on a little bit of a hangover from Labour Day weekend as this past week’s games left a little to be desired.

The Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders barely showed up when visiting key division rivals, while the Hamilton Tiger-Cats looked a little sluggish playing on such a short week. Second-half surges from the Ottawa Redblacks and Edmonton Elks saved the slate from being a dud as both contests came down to the wire late in the fourth quarter.

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

Offensive player of the week: QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

It turns out that an angry Zach Collaros is a dangerous Zach Collaros. The league’s two-time reigning Most Outstanding Player completed 18-of-21 pass attempts for 319 yards and five touchdowns in the Banjo Bowl, eviscerating a Saskatchewan defence against which he’d struggled the previous week. Collaros has now thrown 27 touchdown passes on the year, which leads the league by seven. Headbutt him at your own risk.

Honourable mention: RB Brady Oliveira, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Defensive player of the week: LB Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Simmy HOV turned back the clock on Friday night as he recorded eight tackles, one sack, and one pass knockdown to help his team beat the Redblacks despite playing on only three days of rest. The five-time East Division all-star was in on a key third-down stop at the goal line after Penei Pavihi made the initial contact with Tyrell Pigrome. The 34-year-old has now made 54 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception this season.

Honourable mention: DL Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders

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Special teams player of the week: K/P Boris Bede, Toronto Argonauts

The 33-year-old connected on four-of-five field goal attempts, averaged 44.3 net yards on three punts, booted for an average of 72.2 yards on five kickoffs, and made two special teams tackles, including a touchdown-saving takedown on Tyreik McAllister. The Laval product connected on a 51-yard field goal attempt, while his miss came from 48 yards out. He also made all three of his convert attempts.

Honourable mention: K Dean Faithfull, Edmonton Elks

Breakout player of the week: REC Tommy Nield, Toronto Argonauts

The former fourth-round pick replaced Cam Phillips at slotback when he got hurt in the first quarter and ended up leading the Argos with six catches for 84 yards. Nield only recently dressed for his first game of the season after completing a stint on the six-game injured list and being demoted to the practice roster. After his performance on Saturday, it’s hard to see Toronto sending him back down.

Honourable mention: SAM Redha Kramdi, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Offensive line of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Winnipeg was close to perfect against the Riders this past week, which included stellar play from their offensive line. The unit of Stanley Bryant, Geoff Gray, Chris Kolankowski, Patrick Neufeld, and Jermarcus Hardrick provided plenty of time for Zach Collaros, allowing zero sacks against a tough Saskatchewan defensive line. There were also plenty of holes in the run game as Brady Oliveira and Johnny Augustine combined for 22 carries for 206 yards and one touchdown.

Honourable mention: Toronto Argonauts

Coach of the week: OC Buck Pierce, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Winnipeg’s offence bounced back with authority this week, racking up 42 points in the first half en route to a 51-6 win in the Banjo Bowl. The offence scored touchdowns on each of their first six possessions and it would have been seven had Kenny Lawler not dropped the ball on a would-be 32-yard touchdown catch along the sideline. Brady Oliveira had 211 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown, becoming the first running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Honourable mention: HC Ryan Dinwiddie, Toronto Argonauts

Best play of the week: Brady Oliveira’s touchdown catch

Zach Collaros hasn’t had very good luck delivering last-second tosses while under duress lately, throwing pick-sixes against Edmonton and Montreal. He bucked the trend in the Banjo Bowl, however, as he pitched the ball forward to Brady Oliveira while being wrapped up by Anthony Lanier II. The Winnipeg native was all alone after leaking out of the backfield and turned upfield with a full head of steam, easily scoring from 17 yards out.

Honourable mention: Tim White’s second touchdown catch

Worst play of the week: Edmonton’s awful third-down gamble

Edmonton’s fourth quarter comeback appeared to be thwarted with a little over 90 seconds left when the team failed to convert on third-and-two with a baffling play call. Calgary loaded the box to stop the run and the Elks ran a slow-developing handoff to Kevin Brown, which resulted in a one-yard loss. There was clearly confusion on the play for Edmonton, especially given that right tackle Brett Boyko appeared to be pass blocking.

Honourable mention: Kenny Lawler’s dropped touchdown pass

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Best game of the week: Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Elks

What appeared to be a complete dud from Edmonton heading into the fourth quarter turned out to be a sensational comeback as the Elks scored 18 unanswered points to complete the comeback. Tre Ford’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Mitchell was pretty iconic, though Dean Faithfull’s game-winning field goal and ensuing celebration made this an instant classic. The 36-year-old rookie had a tough start to the season but is now waving the haters good-bye.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks

Worst game of the week: Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts

This game was a perfect opportunity for Montreal to prove they were capable of pushing the Argos for first place in the East Division but ended up stinking out the joint at BMO Field. Austin Mack, the league’s leading receiver, got ejected for an early punch and the Alouettes only scored three points after the midway point of the first quarter. Toronto has seven regular season games left on their schedule but may as well start selling tickets to the East Final right now.

Honourable mention: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers