3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 16

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/BC Lions

Week 16 of the 2023 CFL season is in the books as the Ottawa Redblacks kept their faint playoff hopes alive, the Calgary Stampeders faltered, the B.C. Lions took care of business, the Saskatchewan Roughriders lost a third straight game, and the Toronto Argonauts kept on rolling despite having already clinched first place in the East Division.

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: RB Taquan Mizzell, B.C. Lions

The fleet-footed ball-carrier ran through Edmonton’s defence with authority, running the ball 16 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns and making four receptions for 28 yards. The Lions recently added two running backs to their practice roster but it doesn’t appear Mizzell is giving up the starting job anytime soon as he looked electrifying at Commonwealth Stadium.

Honourable mention: RB Devonte Williams, Ottawa Redblacks

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Defensive player of the week: DL Bryce Carter, Ottawa Redblacks

The second-year edge-rusher was a game-wrecker against Saskatchewan, recording three tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. The ball was scooped up by Cleyon Laing after the fumble and the Redblacks’ offence converted it into a touchdown three plays later. Carter now has 11 sacks on the year, which ranks second league-wide behind B.C. Lions’ defensive end Mathieu Betts.

Honourable mention: DL Shawn Lemon, Montreal Alouettes

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

The 31-year-old brought back nine kicks for 199 yards against Ottawa, including a 107-yard touchdown that provided Saskatchewan with a late spark, albeit in a losing effort. Alford now has three return touchdowns on the year, tying his mark from a season ago when he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

Honourable mention: REC Jake Harty, Montreal Alouettes

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Breakout player of the week: REC Kiondre Smith, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The former fourth-round pick out of Guelph entered this past week with a single-game career high of 54 receiving yards, yet he ended up leading all CFL receivers in Week 16 with nine receptions for 154 yards. Despite his team’s loss, Smith made some nice contested catches, including grabs of 30 and 40 yards late in the game while Hamilton could still have theoretically tied the game.

Honourable mention: DL Christian Albright, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Offensive line of the week: Montreal Alouettes

This unit comprised of Nick Callender, Pier-Olivier Lestage, Justin Lawrence, Kristian Matte, and Jamar McGloster allowed zero sacks against Calgary and allowed William Stanback, Cody Fajardo, Jeshrun Antwi, and Caleb Evans to combine for 106 yards and two touchdowns along the ground. This marks the third time Montreal’s offensive line has won this award this season.

Honourable mention: Toronto Argonauts

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Coach of the week: HC Bob Dyce, Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks dominated Saskatchewan for most of Friday’s game and, though they still allowed 14 points in the final two minutes, were able to close out the game after squandering a win against B.C. the week prior. The Redblacks still have a tough road to make the playoffs as they trail the Tiger-Cats by four points in the East Division standings, though it’s clear this team is still playing hard for its bench boss.

Honourable mention: DC Ryan Phillips, B.C. Lions

Best play of the week: Mario Alford’s punt return touchdown

The veteran return specialist fearlessly split some oncoming defenders late in Saskatchewan’s loss to the Redblacks and weaved his way through Ottawa’s cover team before winning the foot race to the end zone. The Redblacks allowed three touchdowns in three minutes in their loss to B.C. last week, so this score made us all question whether or not the same thing could happen again in the nation’s capital.

Honourable mention: Chad Kelly’s touchdown pass to Dejon Brissett

Worst play of the week: Hamilton’s flea-picker

There are bad plays, there are terrible plays, and then there’s what happened on this blooper from the Ticats. James Butler pitched the ball wide to Taylor Powell on an attempted flea-flicker, which may have been fortuitous since Quan’tez Stiggers was coming in hot off a cornerback blitz. Powell briefly rolled out to his right before throwing the ball directly to Wynton McManis, giving the veteran linebacker his second interception of the game. There were no Hamilton receivers anywhere close to McManis on the play.

Honourable mention: Hamilton’s intentional grounding safety

Best game of the week: B.C. Lions at Edmonton Elks

This was the only game from this past weekend that truly felt as though it was still up for grabs in the last minute as Edmonton took possession of the ball at their own 39-yard line down six points with 1:36 remaining. Though the Elks fell short in their late-game comeback attempt, this contest still featured plenty of points, a number of huge plays, and helped keep the audience awake and energized late on a Friday night.

Honourable mention: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Ottawa Redblacks

Worst game of the week: Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders

This game wasn’t a complete bore, though it was disappointing to see how little fight is left in the Stampeders. Coming off a bye week and playing at home, Calgary should have come out swinging with a realistic chance to still make the playoffs. Instead, they rolled over against middling competition. Arguably the best highlight of this game came when Montreal kicker David Côté split the uprights on an 80-yard kickoff.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts