Special teams play a pivotal role in the CFL, often turning the tide of a game with electrifying moments. This week was no different. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest Special Teams plays in this week’s review;
As the fourth quarter began, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats led the BC Lions 24-23 after Marc Liegghio’s successful 27-yard field goal. After a short offensive drive that resulted in a touchdown, Sean Whyte launched through his 43rd extra point of the season to give the Lions a 30-24 lead. The Tiger-Cats executed a spectacular 63-yard, 12-play drive, culminating in a 30-yard field goal by Marc Liegghio. In a critical moment, the Hamilton defence intercepted the ball in their end zone, providing their offence with another opportunity. They lined Marc Liegghio with a game-tying 48-yard field goal attempt. As the ball sailed toward the right upright, tension gripped the stadium, but miraculously, it doinked off the upright and bounced in, tying the game with just 01:05 left on the clock. Maybe you can see where this is going. Vernon Adams Jr. and the BC Lions offence managed a 6-play, 32-yard drive, positioning Sean Whyte for a game-winning field goal attempt from 48 yards out. With precision, Whyte’s kick sailed through the uprights, securing a thrilling victory for the Lions!
At the end of the First Half, Edmonton led Montreal 21-20 when Chris Jones authorized Dean Faithfull to attempt a 41-yard field goal. Unfortunately for Dean, his kick sailed wide-right and missed its mark. Even worse for Dean, James Letcher Jr. was there to field it 15 yards inside the Montreal endzone. Not wanting to concede a rouge and give up a single point, Letcher Jr. did what he does best. He ran. Narrowly avoiding three Elks defenders near the Montreal 20-yard line, Letcher Jr. embarked on a thrilling 125-yard journey to the end zone, skillfully eluding two more defenders along the way, ultimately earning a hard-earned 6 points for his team.
After levelling the score to commence the second quarter, the Toronto Argonauts prepared to kick off to the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Boris Bede’s kickoff travelled 63 yards, landing in the capable hands of Tobias Harris at the Ottawa 17-yard line. As soon as Harris secured the ball he was getting downhill with impressive speed. The Ottawa blockers took care of the first 3 Argonaut defenders allowing Harris to break free by the Ottawa 40-yard line with only two defenders left to beat. Normally, Boris Bede would be the last line of defence, but Harris had two blockers shielding him when he encountered the kicker, successfully avoiding contact. Despite a final, desperate attempt by the last Argonaut to trip him up at the Toronto 30-yard line, Harris reached the end zone, scoring the second kickoff return touchdown of the game. This astonishing return covered 93 yards, setting a new standard for kickoff returns.
Ryan Meskell was signed to the Saskatchewan Roughriders practice roster back at the end of August as a security blanket in case anything were to happen to star kicker Brett Lauther. Well, Fate intervened as Lauther fell ill the morning of the Roughriders game against the Calgary Stampeders. Meskell was hastily flown to Calgary and thrust into action at the start of the second quarter when he nailed a 34-yard field goal and made CFL history as the first Australian-born player to kick and make, a field goal! The Aussie placekicker continued to impress, making field goals from 31, 38, and 43 yards, along with a successful PAT. He also handled kickoff duties effectively, with his kickoffs averaging 60.3 yards per attempt, and one landing inside the opponent’s 30-yard line. Meskell’s outstanding CFL debut not only aided his team but also highlighted the depth and talent in the Roughriders’ special teams unit.
Jose Maltos’ story is one of redemption. After replacing Montreal Kicker David Côté the previous week, he faced a challenging start, completing just 2 of his 4 field goal attempts. Maltos received another opportunity as Côté dealt with a “Hip Injury,” and he seized it with both hands. Going 5/5 on field goals, Maltos set a new season-long record with a 50-yard kick as his first attempt of the night. He continued his impressive streak with field goals from 24, 36, 33, and 16 yards, contributing a crucial 15 points to the Alouettes’ victory. Maltos didn’t stop there; he showcased substantial improvement in his kickoff performance, averaging 66.4 yards over five kickoffs, a significant leap from his previous week’s average of 55.6 yards. If Côté’s injury keeps him out long-term, Montreal fans can rest assured knowing Jose Maltos has what it takes to fill the void.
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