December 27, 2023

Steinberg: My top 10 games of 2023

Kevin Sousa/

This is always one of the most enjoyable pieces to put together because it allows you to go back and rewatch highlights of the most exciting and meaningful games of the prior season.

With a new year right around the corner, let’s look back at the top 10 games of 2023!

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10. Week 14 – Edmonton 25 Calgary 23

After losing an OK Tire Labour Day Weekend heartbreaker less than a week prior at McMahon Stadium, the Elks responded with a last-minute win of their own. It was a nice way to bounce back after Dedrick Mills finished off an 86-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run to give Calgary the first half of the Battle of Alberta’s annual home-and-home set.


Five days later in the rematch at Commonwealth Stadium, it was Edmonton’s turn. Down a point and in the middle of a last gasp drive, the Elks moved 26 yards on a Stampeders pass interference call. Then, after a 15-yard strike to Eugene Lewis put them in range, Dean Faithfull nailed a 42-yard field goal with time expiring to help the Elks exact a little revenge.

9. Week 14 – Hamilton 27 Ottawa 24


With a playoff position still very much in the balance, Hamilton scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to win a close one against the REDBLACKS. The second of those two majors came with the Tiger-Cats trailing 24-20 and with less than three minutes remaining. Taylor Powell’s 20-yard pass to Tim White in the end zone was the final score of the game and wrapped up a drive that saw Hamilton march 72 yards on eight plays.

It was a solid night for Powell, too. The first-year pivot finished the night with 326 passing yards and three touchdowns in one of the best performances of his young career. But it was White who stole the show. The league’s leading receiver racked up 180 yards on two touchdowns for the best outing of his CFL career…so far.

8. Week 19 – Calgary 26 Saskatchewan 19


The rubber match of this three-game season series between a pair of heated rivals had all kinds of playoff stakes attached. Calgary’s win put them in the driver’s seat to clinch a playoff spot and took destiny out of Saskatchewan’s hands. The Stamps would then cement their 18th straight postseason berth the following week.

The game had some healthy drama, too. After the Stamps went 89 yards on eight plays to score a go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes to go, their defence took over. Calgary forced quarterback Jake Dolegala and the Riders to turn the ball over on downs on two separate occasions to close out a crucial victory.

7. Week 11 – Montreal 25 Ottawa 24


We all know how things ended for Montreal, but this win came well before winning eight straight en route to them capturing the 110th Grey Cup. On this August evening at TD Place in Ottawa, the Alouettes were riding a three-game win streak and trying to put a pedestrian 2-3 start behind them.

Just minutes before kickoff, starting quarterback Cody Fajardo was ruled out with a shoulder injury, which forced understudy Caleb Evans into action. Evans answered the bell quite nicely. Trailing 24-13 late, Evans engineered a pair of seven-play touchdown drives to turn the game on its side. He hit Tyler Snead for a touchdown with 2:39 remaining and plunged in for a two-yard keeper with 31 seconds to go as the Als pulled off the shocker.

6. Week 18 – Winnipeg 34 BC 26


It sure is hard not to love the intense rivalry, both on the field and online, building between the Lions and Bombers. In one of the latest instalments, with playoff positioning still on the line, these two West Division powerhouses went right down to the wire. Winnipeg’s overtime win put them in control of clinching first place and thus a bye into the Western Final.

This thriller looked like it might be going the other way until the Bombers went to work with less than three minutes to go. Down 26-16, Zach Collaros hit Drew Wolitarsky for a 13-yard touchdown to get back within three. Then, after forcing a turnover on downs, Sergio Castillo nailed a 28-yard field goal in the dying seconds to force overtime. Finally, thanks to a Brady Oliveira nine-yard touchdown run, Winnipeg scored on its only extra time possession for the win.

5. Western Semi-Final – BC 41 Calgary 30


For the second straight year we got the Lions and Stampeders at BC Place in the Western Semi-Final. This time around we got even more intrigue. Just two weeks prior, in BC’s regular season finale on home field, they were trounced 41-16 by Calgary. But the Lions flipped the script in a big way when it mattered most.

Adams was electric in front of more than 30,000 fans in downtown Vancouver in the best performance of his career. BC’s quarterback finished with 413 passing yards and two touchdowns and added three more touchdowns on the ground to go along with 54 rushing yards. Receiver Keon Hatcher was right there with him; he reeled in nine catches for 195 yards and a touchdown in the win.

4. Eastern Final – Montreal 38 Toronto 17


For what this year’s Eastern Final lacked in drama was made up for in shock value and recognition of something special. On a path to a Grey Cup win a week later, the Alouettes opened up a 24-3 lead after three quarters against the defending champs, who had just completed a record-tying 16-2 regular season mark.

In the process, Montreal opened a lot of potential sleeping eyes around the league. The Als forced a stunning nine turnovers, which included pick-six interception returns for Marc-Antoine Dequoy and Kabion Ento. Montreal’s dominant defensive effort helped them to a seventh straight win…we all know how No. 8 would go eight days later.

3. Week 13 – Saskatchewan 32 Winnipeg 30


There’s something special about a Labour Day battle between these two rivals. That’s definitely what we got this year as the Riders thrilled a sellout crowd of 33,350 at Mosaic Stadium with an overtime upset over the Bombers. Down by three with very little time left, Dolegala threw seven passes and ran the ball once to move Saskatchewan 60 yards downfield and into position for a Brett Lauther game tying field goal.

Overtime gave us all kinds of fireworks, too. The Roughriders scored on their first possession and converted their mandatory two-point try. Zach Collaros responded for Winnipeg by firing a 35-yard strike to Kenny Lawler before missing on the two-point convert, allowing Saskatchewan to close out a true classic.

2. Week 6 – Ottawa 31 Winnipeg 28 (OT)


I’m still not sure how the REDBLACKS engineered this comeback…but it sure was fun. Let’s not forget Winnipeg held a 25-9 lead with well under three minutes to play. But Ottawa and quarterback Dustin Crum had different ideas on this Saturday afternoon.

Ottawa’s comeback started when Brandin Dandridge picked off Collaros for a 25-yard defensive touchdown. A Nate Behar two-point conversion knocked the deficit down to eight. Then, with 57 seconds to go, the REDBLACKS marched 94 yards in 48 seconds culminating in a 12-yard Crum touchdown run. After Behar reeled in his second two-point convert to tie it, Crum finished the game in overtime with a ridiculous 29-yard touchdown dash.

1. The 110th Grey Cup – Montreal 28 Winnipeg 24


It really was the best game of the year, wasn’t it? The Als and Bombers gave us four quarters of back-and-forth football in a game that never once felt in the bag or out of reach for either side. The tension was high throughout and culminated in an incredible final few minutes.

Taking over with less than two minutes remaining and trailing 24-21, Fajardo threw the two most memorable passes of his career. It started with a 31-yard stunner to Cole Spieker on third-and five to keep Montreal’s season alive and finished with a 19-yard game winner to Tyson Philpott in the end zone.

The 110th Grey Cup was the perfect way to wrap up 2023.

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