The Best Game From Every Week of the 2021 CFL Season – Part 1

And just like that, another regular season in the Canadian Football League has drawn to a close. It’s been a season like no other for numerous reasons and while it certainly had some challenges, there has been no shortage of great games to get us talking this season. So as we gear up for the East and West Semi-Finals, let’s wet our football appetite by taking a look at one game from each week of the CFL season. This article will concentrate on weeks one through to eight, with a follow-up looking at the second half of the season soon to follow.

Week 1 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 19 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 6

Okay so maybe this wasn’t the best game of week one, but I wanted to give this game some love because of the road we took to get here. After the 2020 season was cancelled, the very survival of the league was called into question even going as far as there being strong rumours of a merger with the XFL. But on August 5th, 2021, we all got to sit down to our first CFL game since November 24th, 2019. Hamilton took an early lead with Jeremiah Massoli once again under centre but spurred on by 126 rushing yards from Winnipeg native Brady Oliveira, the Bombers would take control of this game with 19 unanswered points which set the tone for their dominant season to come.

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Week 2 – Calgary Stampeders 9 – BC Lions 15

Who saw that coming at the start of the season? Calgary, who had lost at home in week one to the Argonauts were looking to bounce back against a Lions side that failed to win a game against any West team in 2019 and was plagued with uncertainty at quarterback. After initially declaring Nathan Rourke would be under centre, it was the veteran Michael Reilly who lined up for the Lions who stunned the Stamps at McMahon thanks to a strong defensive performance from the Lions, holding Calgary to just three field goals, recording three sacks and picking off Bo Levi Mitchell four times. Meanwhile, on the other side, Reilly looked as good as ever completing 78.8% of his passes for 342 yards and a rushing touchdown, as BC went on to win a statement game early on in the season.

Week 3 – Toronto Argonauts 30 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23

The Argos gave Nick Arbuckle his first start of the season against the Bombers and he didn’t disappoint in an upset win. One week removed from losing in Winnipeg 20-7, in which Arbuckle came on in relief of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto stormed into a 13-0 first-quarter lead.

Nick Arbuckle, formerly of the Toronto Argonauts

Despite Winnipeg clawing back at the deficit, Toronto we’re always one step ahead thanks to Arbuckle’s 310 yards through the air and running back DJ Fosters 101 ground yards. When they needed them, Toronto’s defence also played up to the occasion, Bombers only rushed for 32 yards the whole game, and the Argos picked off Zach Collaros early on and limited him to just 204 yards and a 54% pass completion rate. Toronto has gone on to be imperious at BMO this season, losing just one game at home all season, and they for sure set the tone for fortress BMO against the defending champs.

Week 4 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18 – Calgary Stampeders 16

Okay so there’s been a lot of Bombers games so far but this one for sure deserves its place here. After Jake Maier lead the Stamps to a win the previous week in relief of the injured Bo Levi Mitchell, he put on a historical performance completing a franchise record 17 consecutive pass completions. On the other side, Winnipeg was spurred on by the season debut of reigning Grey Cup MOP Andrew Harris. Harris wasted no time making an impact scoring the Bombers only touchdown on the day and racking up 81 yards.

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The game was a close defensive contest, with both teams combining for seven field goals. Going into the fourth quarter, Calgary held a slender 13-12 lead, another exchange of field goals made it 16-15 Calgary, meaning Winnipeg had only a minute and 49 seconds to get the ball into field goal range. With the game on the line, Zach Collaros lead his team into field goal range and Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio made no mistake making it 18-16 with 40 seconds left. It was just enough time for Maier to lead a drive of his own, marching Calgary to Winnipeg’s 45-yard line to set up a potential Rene Paredes game-winning field goal. Paredes’ effort from 52 yards, however, fell just short, bringing the game to a dramatic finish.

Week 5 – Ottawa RedBlacks 29 – Montreal Alouettes 51

What better way to kick off Labour Day Weekend in the CFL than with a good old fashion shootout? It had been a shaky start for Montreals’ Vernon Adams Jr, the quarterback made less than 50% of his passes in his last two outings against three touchdowns and two interceptions. But Adams Jr. put on an electrifying display going 18-23 for 288 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, Adams Jr. put up another 35 yards of offence and Montreal dominated both sides of the ball going up 41-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Alouettes’ Vernon Adams Jr. escapes pressure by Redblacks’ Praise Martin-Oguike

At this point, Ottawa could be forgiven for feeling sorry for themselves, but Dominique Davis and the Redblacks’ offence found a spark in the fourth quarter, putting up 16 points in the final 13 minutes to help make this game the highest-scoring game of the CFL season, and get the CFL’s marquee weekend off to a great start.

Week 6 – Toronto Argonauts 17 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 16

Hamilton was riding high going into this game after beating their old rivals, the Argos 32-19 in the Labour Day Classic and we’re looking to make a run at the East Division title after a slow start. It was Toronto, however, who would come out on top in a closely fought contest at BMO Field. Going into the fourth quarter, Toronto held a 17-7 lead thanks to a stout defensive effort, but Dane Evans and Hamilton’s offence cut the lead to just 17-10 early on to set up a tense finish. The game took a twist, however, when the Hamilton signal-caller went down injured and David Watford had to come on in relief of Evans.

David Watford, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton’s offence struggled, but Toronto would give them a chance when a Nick Arbuckle pass was intercepted, setting the Ti-Cats up at Toronto’s 50 with just over two minutes left. Spurred on by the momentum gained by the turnover, Watford marched Hamilton down the field setting up a 21-yard run by running back Sean Thomas-Erlington to make the game 17-16, and Hamilton was just an extra point away from tying the game.

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But in yet another twist, kicker Michael Domagala’s extra point attempt hit the post, keeping Toronto’s lead intact with just 1:18 on the clock. Toronto managed to hold to their lead to beat their old rival in a close-run affair, that could’ve gone either way, but it was Toronto who would take another step closer to home advantage in the playoffs.

Week 7 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23 – Calgary Stampeders 17

After being the bridesmaid twice so far, Hamilton can finally lay claim to a victory in a close-run defensive game against Calgary. Watford, Hamilton’s backup quarterback was thrust into the spotlight against the Stampeders and while he didn’t light it up, his offence played mistake-free not turning the ball over and setting up five field goals leading to 15 points.

HAMILTON, ONTARIO – SEPTEMBER 17: 2021 Canadian Football League game between Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders at Tim Hortons Field on September 17, 2021, in Hamilton, Ontario. (Photo by Ryan McCullough/Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

The same couldn’t be said for Calgary, Mitchell continued his streak of throwing an interception in every game he had played this season with a third-quarter pick that Simoni Lawrence returned for a touchdown to give Hamilton a 15-10 lead which they extended to 17-10 after a successful two-point conversion. That turnover was one of five by Calgary on the night, three fumbles, one interception and one turnover on downs summed a tame game for the offence which could only manage a passing touchdown after Jake Maier was substituted in for Mitchell.

Hamiltons defence played brilliantly throughout the game, even keeping the stamps out of the end zone after Hamilton has their own turnovers problems on punt returns. Overall it was a comfortable win for Hamilton who continued their push in the East and if left Calgary licking their wounds, after a disappointing 2-5 start to their season.

Week 8 – BC Lions 24 – Saskatchewan Roughriders 31

Oh, what could’ve been for the at the time 4-2 BC Lions? Going into this fixture, at the time it looked like this game between BC and Saskatchewan looked like it might decide who between the two would have home advantage in the West Semi. Heading into the fourth quarterback of this game, the score was close with Saskatchewan edging it 18-17 but BC, thanks to the arm of quarterback Michael Reilly were able to retake the lead after a pass interference call on the Riders set BC up at the one-yard line where Shaq Cooper ploughed through to make it 24-18 Lions after the extra point.

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After a couple of exchanged punts, Saskatchewan again got the ball looking for a go-ahead touchdown but it looked like it wasn’t meant to be. Jalon Edwards-Cooper picked off Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo to give BC the ball with just 2:42 on the clock. The lions however could only manage a two and out, and a less than ideal punt set up the Saskatchewan with the ball with just 54 yards between them and the end zone.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo Throws a pass against the BC Lions in CFL action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, on July 20, 2019. Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Ultimately it came down to a third and goal from the one-yard line, Fajardo put his head down and went for the QB sneak and with just two seconds left on the clock, scored the game-winning touchdown to give Saskatchewan a 25-24 lead. There was still time for more points to be scored, as BC fumbled the ensuing kickoff which Demarquis Gates scooped up and returned for a touchdown to make the game finish 31-24 to Saskatchewan. We’ll never know if a BC team sitting at 5-2 would’ve gone onto the playoffs, but what is certain is that the BC Lions were never the same after they lost this game in such a heartbreaking fashion.

Stay Tuned For Part 2

We’re only halfway through the best games of the CFL season, so stay tuned for part two of this series that will be coming in the next few days. If you think we should have picked a different game for a week, feel free to let us what game you think was the best either in the comments below or on Twitter by Tweeting at @13thManSpots!

Published by Paul McNulty

CFL, NFL NHL and soccer fan. Based in British Columbia. Originally from Scotland.

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