CFL single game slingin’ sensations
The “CFL single game slingin’ sensations” in this instance are the QBs who have thrown for the most yards in single game.
CFL Free Agency is moving on, and the combines and Draft are not that far away. Meaning they take up a lot of space in the CFL news cycle right now. But sometimes it is fun to pause, and look back.
I will never not enjoy the rich history of the 3 down game. And, because of that I thought it might be fun to take a look at some single game slingin’ sensations – the top 10 game performances by passing yardage in the CFL record books.
So let’s take a look at who did what when!
CFL Single Game Slingin Sensations – Top 10
10 Anthony Calvillo 1994
Las Vegas Posse 50 Ottawa Rough Riders 54 (OT) – 551 yard passing
In his first year in the CFL, Calvillo was with the storied US expansion squad the Las Vegas Posse. Coming in Week 9 this barnstormer saw Las Vegas lose in overtime at Ottawa. Curtis Mayfield would gather in 319 of the yards Calvillo put up.
Calvillo finished the season with 2,582 yards passing. So this game alone counted for 21% of his season stats in that regard! His rookie season hardly heralded the career to come. He only managed to connect on 44% of his passes and threw two more picks than touchdowns. But the expansion teams had given him a way into the league. And he would break through that door to go onto be one of the true CFL legends.
A 10 time Eastern All-Star, & 5 time CFL All-Star Calvillo led the Montreal Alouettes to multiple Grey Cup games including winning three titles.
9 Peter Liske 1968
Calgary Stampeders 38 Saskatchewan Roughriders 35 – 553 yards passing
Liske who had played in the AFL for the Jets in 1964 arrived in the CFL with Toronto in 1965. Similar to Calvillo he had an uninspiring first season in Double Blue. A move to Calgary in 1966 really set the ball rolling for Liske.
In 1967 and 1968 he had back to back 4,000 yard passing seasons. Throwing for 4,333 yards and 31 touchdowns when he had this 550+ yarder. In 1967 he was a CFL All-Star while in 1968 he led the Stamps to the Grey Cup (where they lost 24-21 to Ottawa).
These were his best years North of the border. He did return after another AFL stint but was never as productive.
8 Warren Moon 1983
Edmonton Eskimos 45 Montreal Concordes 32 – 555 yards passing
By 1983 Warren Moon was in his final season with the Esks before heading off the the NFL. Moon was in Edmonton for the entire run of their 5 year Grey Cup Dynasty from 1977-1982. The team would be dominant going 70-22-5 and converting that into six straight Grey Cup appearances (they lost in 1977) and five straight wins. Moon was there for those five titles.
In 1983 they fell back to Earth going 8-8 and losing 49-22 in the West Semi-Final to Winnipeg. However, Warren Moon himself checked out of the CFL in style. During his final season he was the league’s leading passer with 380 completions on 664 attempts for 5,648 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was voted the league MOP.
7 Doug Flutie 1993
Calgary Stampeders 47 Ottawa Rough Riders 22 – 556 yards passing
From one MOP to another. Doug Flutie won the MOP for the third staight year in 1993. Eventually he would win it four times in a row and six times overall.
In 1993 he led a 15-3 Stampeders team to the West Final, where they fell to Edmonton. Along the way Flutie completed 416 of 703 passes for 6,092 yards and 44 touchdowns. This was the second of his 6,000 yard seasons.
6 Kent Austin 1992
Saskatchean Roughriders 46 BC Lions 43 (OT) – 558 yards passing
Kent Austin was in his sixth year of seven with the Roughriders when this performance rolled around. He also posted a 6,000 yard season. But picked up no awards – not even a West All Star as they fell once again to Flutie.
Austin finished 1992 with a stat line of 459 of 770 (59.6%), 6,225 yards, and 35 Touchdowns. He added 200 rushing yards and 11 TD’s. That same year Flutie went 396 of 688 (57.5%), 5,945 yards, and 32 Touchdowns. Flutie did add 669 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Perhaps the biggest difference was that Austin led an inconsistent 9-9 Roughriders team while Flutie led the 13-5 Stamps to a Grey Cup win.
5 Sam Etcheverry 1956
Montreal Alouettes 44 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 43 – 561 yards
As we hit the top five of the CFL slingin’ sensations we find the earliest game on our list. Perhaps not that surprising in some ways. Sam Etcheverry was a modern passer and superstar of the league in the 1950s.
When he joined in ’52 the Als were still part of the IRFU before the CFL was officially formed. So we are very definitely in a different era here! A fact pushed home when we consider there are no official stats for the first two years of Etcheverry’s career either.
What we do know is that when stats started to be kept we can see that between 1954 and 1960 he never passed for less than 3,000 yards in a season. We should remember too that these were 14 game seasons. Apart from a 12 game 1955 season when Etcheverry threw for an amazing 3,657 yards and 30 TD’s.
Most people know that Joe Namath was the first QB to crack 4,000 yards passing in a season in the NFL in 1967. He hit 4,007 yards and 26 TD’s in a 14 game season.
Well the Rifle did it earlier. Sam Etcheverry put together a season in 1956 that wouldn’t look out of place in the modern game. That year over 14 games he completed 61.9% of his passes for 4,723 yards (10.3 yards per attempt) and 32 touchdowns. This game won’t have hurt his yardage numbers!
4 Doug Flutie – 1991
BC Lions 38 Edmonton Eskimos 45 – 582 yards
Fltuie’s second appearance on the list is heralded by a game his team lost. They would go on to finish the season 11-7, third in the West, and lose to Calgary in the West Semi Final.
Doug Flutie was named league MOP for the first time in his CFL career. BC had brought him into the league on a contract reportedly worth $350,000 a season. At the time he was the highest paid player in the CFL. For this season he went 466 of 730 for 6,619 yards and 38 touchdowns. As well as running for over 600 yards and running in 14 majors.
After this he moved on for a reported million-dollar salary with Calgary.
3 Sam Etcheverry – 1954
Montreal Alouettes 46 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 11 – 586 yards
It somehow seems appropriate that the first modern QB and the first 6,000 yard man would cross over on this list. They are also the only men to appear twice on the list too. This time around Sam Etcheverry led the 1954 Montreal aerial attack, slinging for 3,610 yards in 14 games.
From 1953-56 the Alouettes were dominant in the East. During that period they would put up a 30-10 record and appear in 3 consecutive title games (1954-6) but lose on each occasion to Edmonton.
2 Danny Barrett 1993
BC Lions 55 Toronto Argonauts 38 – 601 yards
When Danny Barrett threw for 601 yards he was breaking Etcheverry’s record that had stood at the slingin’ sensations pinnacle for 39 years. Not to mention becoming the first QB to break the single game 600 yards passing barrier.
Barrett led the Lions to a 10-8 record and fourth place in the West Division. They would fall in the West Semi Final in the playoffs.
In his eleventh year in the CFL and second with the Lions Barrett threw for 4,097 yards and 24 touchdowns. He would finish his CFL career with 23,419 yards passing and 35 touchdowns.
1 Matt Dunigan 1994
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 50 Edmonton Eskimos 35 – 713 yards
After waiting nearly two decades to see the single game passing record broken, CFL fans saw it done again the very next year. For many this is now one of the most unassailable records in the CFL record books.
Matt Dunigan went 33 of 52 for 713 yards, five TDs and 2 picks in this game. He hit Alfred Jackson seven times for 308 yards and four touchdowns and David Williams had 10 receptions for 240 yards with one score.
Banner Image: Top Slingin sensation Matt dunigan threw for 713 yards in one game in 1994. Image from 3downnation.com