Week 6 of the 2022 season was the loudest indicator yet that the CFL’s on-field product is alive and thriving. After an important return to play in 2021, the league is back for the first full season since 2019 and Week 6 was a showcase for so many different reasons.
First and foremost, it was an opportunity to bring the game to Atlantic Canada once again. For the first time, Touchdown Atlantic was held in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and Acadia University put on quite the show.
With almost 11,000 people jammed into Raymond Field on Saturday afternoon, Touchdown Atlantic was a great reminder of how much CFL interest exists east of Quebec. The atmosphere was great, it translated well on television, and we had a game that went right down to the wire to top it all off.
Toronto’s 30-24 win over Saskatchewan went back and forth all afternoon and gave us plenty of fireworks. Both quarterbacks hooked up some big gainers and Jamal Morrow busted off an electric 51-yard run for the Riders.
But the biggest play of the game came on the other side of the ball when Argos linebacker Wynton McManis picked off Cody Fajardo for a 50-yard touchdown with less than three minutes remaining. Pick-six plays are always exciting, but you don’t get game winners quite like that very often. It was an exciting way to wrap up a tight football game.
Touchdown Atlantic wasn’t the only game that hung in the balance late in the fourth quarter, though. The Edmonton Elks set the tone for Week 6 with Thursday’s huge 32-31 comeback win in Montreal. And it was Taylor Cornelius, the third string quarterback to start the season, delivering the winning strike with less than five minutes to go. One big defensive series later, Cornelius made a couple more big plays to milk the clock and seal an important road win.
I give Cornelius a lot of credit, too. With Nick Arbuckle traded to Ottawa and Tre Ford hurt, Cornelius limited mistakes and finished Thursday with 230 passing yards and a touchdown. And, much like Arbuckle and Ford before him, Cornelius looked to Kenny Lawler all night long. Lawler finished with 13 targets, seven catches, 92 yards, and a game winning touchdown as he continues to compete for the crown of 2022’s best free agent signing.
In a battle of unbeaten squads one night later, the Stampeders and Bombers went right to the limit, too. In a game that looked and felt like a heavyweight showdown, these two went shot for shot until Winnipeg’s Demerio Houston was johnny on the spot in the end zone for a game winning interception with less than two minutes to go.
Despite the 26-19 loss for Calgary, they’ve got lots to feel good about. The now 4-1 Stamps were right there all night long with the two-time defending Grey Cup champs and left a few points on the field, too. But once again, this Bombers team knows how to execute at the most important times. That was evident Friday when Zach Collaros led Winnipeg on a ten-play drive that finished with an eventual game winning touchdown pass to Carlton Agudosi with less than five minutes to go. These two play later this month in Calgary and I cannot wait for the rematch.
Week 6 wrapped up with what could have been another disastrous loss for Hamilton at home to Ottawa. Instead, Dane Evans and the Ticats flipped the script and executed with a game on the line in the fourth quarter. After turning the ball over on a third and goal play with just over two minutes remaining, it sure did look like Hamilton was destined for a fifth straight loss.
But instead, the Tiger-Cats changed the narrative. Hamilton’s defence forced a two-and-out and a REDBLACKS punt, setting up great field position. Starting at Ottawa’s 49-yard line, Tim White finished off a five-play drive on a perfectly thrown Evans touchdown pass. It wasn’t pretty, but Hamilton finally has their first win of the season.
Week 6 gave us four games with outstanding finishes and a great event in Atlantic Canada. I’d say it was a pretty good showcase for the league.
Chandler Worthy has suddenly become one of the CFL’s most dangerous and exciting players. After three seasons with Toronto, Worthy has come alive as Montreal’s primary returner in 2022. With two return touchdowns already, Worthy feels like a threat to break one off on every kick of punt. That was the case once again in Week 6 vs. Edmonton.
Not mentioned above was how Edmonton got into position for their game winning touchdown drive. In his first year with his new team, the Elks got a vintage Ed Gainey interception to get the ball back and, just as importantly, steal momentum right back. Cornelius and Edmonton’s offence did the rest after Gainey’s first interception of the season.
If the aforementioned Kenny Lawler is competing for 2022’s best free agent signing, then so is the guy who essentially replaced him in Winnipeg. Greg Ellingson has been a seamless fit in his first year with the Blue Bombers and, with 152 yards on Friday night, leads the league in receiving with 518. Ellingson seemed like a no-brainer fit when he signed in Winnipeg, and it has been that and much more during a 6-0 start.