3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 18

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

Week 18 of the CFL season is in the books, eliminating the Edmonton Elks and Ottawa Redblacks from playoff contention. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers achieved West Division superiority, Bo Levi Mitchell played well in his return for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders lost a fifth straight game.

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

In a battle of the two front-runners for Most Outstanding Player, Collaros outplayed Vernon Adams Jr. to help lead his team to an overtime win that has all but wrapped up the West Division for the Blue Bombers. The veteran passer completed 31-of-41 pass attempts for 389 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception along with one carry for six yards. The question now is whether Collaros or his teammate, running back Brady Oliveira, will earn Winnipeg’s nomination for M.O.P.

Honourable mention: RB Brady Oliveira, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

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

The 34-year-old continued his strong second half of the season with another award-winning performance, recording five tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. Lawrence has officially tied his career-high with three forced fumbles this season and is only one sack away from tying his career-high of six, which was set in 2017. The Tiger-Cats have won five of their last seven games and Lawrence is a big part of the reason why.

Honourable mention: DL Shawn Oakman, Toronto Argonauts

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

The eight-year veteran continues to pull double duty at a high level for the Boatmen, connecting on both of his field goal attempts and all three of his converts in a 35-12 win over the Edmonton Elks. He also led all punters this past week with a 42.1-yard net average and finished second among kickoff specialists with a 68.0-yard average.

Honourable mention: DB Kosi Onyeka, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Breakout player of the week: REC Omar Bayless, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The rookie out of Arkansas State was elevated to the starting lineup when Duke Williams was shut down for the season and has been a relatively consistent contributor ever since. He finally reached the end zone in Hamilton’s big win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, catching touchdown passes from Bo Levi Mitchell and Matthew Shiltz to help the team achieve a 38-13 victory.

Honourable mention: REC Gavin Cobb, Edmonton Elks

Offensive line of the week: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton’s unit of Jordan Murray, Brandon Revenberg, David Beard, Coulter Woodmansey, and Tyrone Riley allowed zero sacks against Saskatchewan and paved the way for the club to record 38 points and 546 yards of net offence. This marks the second time the Tiger-Cats have won this award this season and the first time since way back in Week 5.

Honourable mention: Montreal Alouettes

Coach of the week: OL Mike Gibson, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich was away from the team this past week due to family reasons and his unit didn’t skip a beat with Gibson calling the plays. Bo Levi Mitchell and Matthew Shiltz combined for 400 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while James Butler carried the ball 25 times for 107 yards, becoming the club’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2010. Hamilton’s offence appears to be playing its best football of the season.

Honourable mention: DC Corey Mace, Toronto Argonauts

Best play of the week: QB Tre Ford, Edmonton Elks

Edmonton was eliminated from postseason contention this past week, but there was still at least one moment that gave fans hope for the future. Tre Ford fled the pockets and reversed field twice, evading oncoming pass-rushers seemingly with ease, before finding Gavin Cobb in the back of the end zone for the receiver’s first career touchdown. This was not only the play of the week but it was arguably the play of the year.

Honourable mention: DB Stavros Katsantonis, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Worst play of the week: Saskatchewan’s short yardage snafu

The Riders got cute on third-and-short from Hamilton’s 32-yard line when Antonio Pipkin ran left and handed the ball off to Jamal Morrow on a reverse. The Tiger-Cats weren’t caught off guard as veteran linebacker Jameer Thurman set the edge, tackling Morrow for a seven-yard loss and forcing a turnover on downs. Kudos to Saskatchewan for thinking outside the box but Pipkin went two-for-two on traditional quarterback dives. Had the Riders simply ran a normal play, it probably would have resulted in a first down.

Honourable mention: QB Cody Fajardo, Montreal Alouettes

Best game of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Lions

This was arguably the most anticipated game of the year and it fully lived up to the hype as it went into overtime after Winnipeg erased a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes. The Blue Bombers and Lions combined for 849 net yards of offence, 60 points, nine sacks, and five takeaways, embodying the type of wide open, high-action football for which the CFL is known. The final play of regulation, which saw Dominique Rhymes make a 65-yard catch and run before being tackled at the five-yard line, will live on in infamy.

Honourable mention: Edmonton Elks vs. Toronto Argonauts

Worst game of the week: Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes

Oh, Ottawa, what are we going to do with you? The Redblacks didn’t even show up with their season on the line, putting up only three points and 180 net yards of offence. They say it’s hard to beat the same team two weeks in a row but the Alouettes made it look awfully easy on Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping you paired this game with turkey and pumpkin pie, otherwise it was extremely lacklustre.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders